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A look at the rise of walking football

7 July 2020

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It remains one of the fastest growing sports in the United Kingdom, but did you know that walking football was originally devised by Chesterfield FC Community Trust?

It was first played in 2011 by the Spireites Community Trust following a government incentive to get older people more involved in sport. The incentive was predominantly introduced to help tackle isolation among older people, whilst also helping to improve their fitness and provide them with a way to carry on playing the sport they love.

The first game involved five of the founding members playing each other at Queen’s Park in Chesterfield, and it’s grown rapidly since. Last year there were 1,500 registered teams and 60,000 players in the United Kingdom, whilst the sport was also being played in 40 other countries.

Charlie Last wasn’t present for the genesis of the sport, but he’s been playing for the Chesterfield Senior Spireites FC for the last three years.

“There are people who go for the social side of it and for a bit of fitness,” Charlie said.

“There are some people who you can tell have played the game at a really high level because they’ve still got the vision, the positioning and the shot power.

“A lot of people say it must be rubbish, but if you can only walk your pass has got to be accurate and your first touch has got to kill the ball. I think it’s really good.”

Charlie started watching the Spireites in 1966 and has played football throughout his life. He’s delighted that he can carry on playing the sport he loves on a regular basis.

“I took it up with my mate around three years ago. On a Monday there will be 50 people playing so we will use up all five pitches. I love playing it and I think it’s a really good thing.”

Charlie has just returned to socially-distanced training alongside the rest of the team, having been prevented from meeting up over the last few months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although he’s delighted to be back on the pitch, Charlie says there has been one major disappointment.

“We should’ve been playing at an international tournament in Holland in June. In the past I think we’ve played big name teams like FC Schalke 04 and SV Werder Bremen. You get to play in a Premiership Dutch stadium as well, which is fantastic!”


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