Goals and good health: Richmond walking football hits the (penalty) spot with older men

Walking football has become a popular way of getting older men out of bed and onto the pitch in London thanks to Age UK Richmond.

Age UK Richmond has been organising walking football for men over 50 in Old Deer Park for the past two years after receiving funding from the Surrey Football Association.

Retired Kew resident John O’Brien is a regular at walking football

The 67-year-old said: “My wife had been saying to me for a long time ‘you need to do more exercise’.

“But most of the exercise for old people is dull and boring, you know, swimming or jogging.

“Then I saw an advert on the television from Barclays Bank for walking football and thought ‘that’s really what I want to do’.”

The Old Deer Park group has around 35 members and they usually play four, five-or-six aside games each session.

The team meet at Pools on the Park car park in Richmond at 10.30am every Wednesday morning.

Lionel Scurville, a personal trainer and walking football coach for the group, said: “It is ideal for guys who have range of movement and flexibility issues.

“We are looking to increase their flexibility, range of movement and basically up their general fitness levels and we are doing it in a very moderate way.

“We will conduct a full dynamic stretch out and we will go through some drills beforehand and it’s really helped their fitness levels.”

The Surrey FA has now started a formal league for over 50s and over 60s which some of the group play in.

Mark Thurgood, an insurance broker from Richmond, has been training with the group for about four weeks.

The 62-year-old said: “It gives you another exercise, I’m a runner but I like the competitive element of this.

“It involves meeting new friends, it is relatively safe, and it’s a good form of exercise and a great social event.”

Age UK Richmond has been lucky enough to receive significant funding from charitable trusts for men’s projects and activities in Richmond Borough.

Susan Hollins from Age UK Richmond said: “Research in the borough shows that many men are lonely and isolated or at risk of that.

“So we run activities where people can get together make friends, have a chat and just keep in touch with each other.”

In addition to walking football Age UK Richmond also offer ‘Fit for Men’ circuit training, ‘Man with a Pan’ cookery courses and social activities such as pub lunches and health walks.

To find out more about these activities contact Age UK Richmond on 020 8744 1965

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