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Health boost for Fleetwood's walking footballers

23 May 2016

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There are now more than 600 active clubs around the UK

Walking footballers in Fleetwood – who are enjoying the health benefits of being back on the pitch – today called for more men over the age of 50 to get involved and get in shape.

The sport of Walking Football – which is aimed at keeping players fit, active and re-engaged with physical and social activity – has grown rapidly over the last five years. There are now more than 600 active clubs around the UK.

The Fleetwood Flyers, part of the community arm of Fleetwood Town Football Club, has seen its membership grow and the group is now based at the League One club’s stunning new £8m training base at Poolfoot Farm, Thornton, Lancashire.

As well as being a great way for the over 50s to stay in shape, Walking Football is an all-inclusive social event. Research published this week by The Mental Health Foundation stated that developing friendships was key to preventing many mental health problems.

Matt Hilton, Fleetwood Town’s Director of Community Development and Education, said: “Walking football is an excellent way for men over 50 to get back involved in football or even play the game for the first time.

“We have a core of 18 men aged 50+ who attend sessions at Milton Street Astro, in Fleetwood and at Poolfoot Farm. Not only do the guys love playing, but new friendships are formed and the health benefits are there for all to see. It’s a great sport and a wonderful social activity.”

Research from the Fleetwood sessions show:

- 75% of those who take part feel healthier and have lost weight
- One individual reported he had lost 18lbs in weight since the programme had started
- 100% responded that they better understanding of mental health and the threats to maintaining good mental health
- 90% of individuals had formed new friendships

Gerald Brown and Kevin Clarkson, who are part of the Fleetwood Town Flyers, say the weekly sessions have a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

Kevin said: “We have been going for two years and we are all-inclusive for anyone over 50-years-old. It really is great for fun and great for fitness.

“It’s a slightly faster pace than just walking. There is skill involved and pass and move is the key. People who come down really enjoy it, they are playing football again and the health benefits are tremendous.”

Gerald added: “Walking football is growing on a national basis and most clubs across the country have or will be having a walking football team and we are proud to be part of it.

“It’s all-inclusive and we try and play as much as we can. If anyone wants to come and try then we’ll be at Poolfoot Farm every Wednesday at 12.30pm. Come and give it a go.”

The report by the Mental Health Foundation said: “Extensive evidence shows that having good-quality relationships can help us to live longer and happier lives with fewer mental health problems. Having close, positive relationships can give us a purpose and sense of belonging.

“Loneliness and isolation remain the key predictors for poor psychological and physical health. Having a lack of good relationships and long-term feelings of loneliness have been shown by a range of studies to be associated with higher rates of mortality, poor physical health outcomes and lower life satisfaction.”

Poolfoot Farm boasts some of the finest training facilities in the UK with 12 grass pitches, two full size 4G FIFA 2 star standard artificial pitches, a fully fitted gym, fitness studio, physiotherapy suite and seven changing rooms.

And its stunning new Crossbar and Grill restaurant and bar is proving to be the perfect place for the Walking Footballers to relax and unwind with a well-earned post-match drink and meal.

Fleetwood Flyers have three sessions a week: at Poolfoot Farm on Wednesdays at 12.30pm and again on Fridays between 5pm and 6pm. They also have a session every Monday at Milton Street Community Facility in Fleetwood at 1.30pm.

For more information visit the Fleetwood Town Flyers Walking Football Club website.

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