“Perfect exercise’, ‘forgot how much I enjoyed playing’ and ‘so glad I went tonight even though I didn’t feel up to it’ are just some of the comments from members of a walking football group that sum up the positive impact it has made on their health and wellbeing.
The walking football group is run by the Cambrian Village Trust in Clydach Vale and is open to men and women of all ages with the emphasis on having fun, making friends and improving fitness at a gentle pace.
Around 20 people are taking part in the initiative which takes place every Tuesday 6.30pm – 7.30pm and Sunday 11.30am -12.30pm on a 3G pitch and the group are looking for more players to come along.
Volunteer Rob Jones, who runs the group, said that taking part in walking football had made him feel proud and enabled him to stay in touch with the game that he loves.
Mr Jones, 57, from Tonypandy said, “Advancing years, illness and injury can be reasons not to do things that we once enjoyed but even with ill health including troublesome tinnitus and knee operations I have found real enjoyment as well as witnessing health benefits for a number of participants.
“Walking football can be done at your own pace and it’s just fantastic to see the positive impact it has on people. The twice weekly outings help reduce social isolation, unite folk, improve wellbeing and offer a chance to get some fresh air.
“Everyone who participates has spoken highly of it and this growing sport has to be tried to really appreciate its value. It really raises the spirit and I would encourage anyone to give it a go.”
Walking football is recommended by healthcare professionals to improve physical health and mental wellness and the Cambrian group is open to everyone whether they have played football before or not.
People from across the Rhondda and further afield including Cardiff, Neath and Pontypridd have taken part in the sessions which cost just £3.
Although it is aimed more at the over 50s, there is a mixture of age ranges taking part from teenagers to the oldest current player who is aged 72.
Steve Harris, 64, from Porth, who joined the walking football group at the start of the year, said, “From my first go at walking football at Cambrian, I loved it, they are such a great bunch of guys.
“I have a 12 year old who is developing all the time as a footballer, and a wife who is physically fitter than I will ever be, so it’s time I got my act together.
“If you are past a certain age, but you still have that love for football, give it a go, you never know, you may just enjoy it and it’ll improve your fitness levels.”
Each session provides a warm up exercise and football work before a game is played on a first class pitch which has floodlights to ensure the team can play throughout the winter.
The activity is part of a range of services in the community that are being highlighted as part of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board’s #YourLocalTeam campaign.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the range of professionals and activities in the community that can help patients without the need to go to the GP.
To join the Cambrian group please ring 01443 433853 or email [email protected]