The beautiful game – at a slower pace

Published Tuesday 25 July 2023 at 10:18

Blackburn based charity Creative Football has launched a walking football session to give people with long-term health conditions an opportunity to socialise, get active and play the sport they love at a pace to suit them.

The walking football sessions welcome people from all walks of life, particularly people who are living with health conditions like Parkinson’s, recovering from the effects of a stroke or experience mobility issues. These weekly sessions cater to all ages and abilities. The ‘Football 2 Fitness’ sessions are free to attend, take place at Witton Park’s 3G pitch on Thursdays from 10am-12noon and are generously sponsored by local businesses Darwen Electrical Services and Fairham Mouldings.

Earlier this year one of the participants, 45 year old Chris Lambert who has Parkinson’s disease, voiced his concerns about his health to his employer, Barry Gavahan at Darwen Electrical Services. Although Chris felt his health had deteriorated and he’d have to give up working, Barry knew Chris had been benefitting from attending Walking Football sessions in Liverpool and wanted to help him find a similar session locally.

Keen to support his long-standing and loyal employee, Barry approached Creative Football to ask if they offered a suitable session. Creative Football are always looking to support local people and have consequently launched this new initiative at Witton Park.

This initiative adds to an already great offer provided by other organisations in the borough including Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and Age UK Blackburn with Darwen. Creative Football wanted to give people more choice in the sessions they could attend, encouraging people living with long term health conditions, who may have good and bad days, a chance to be more active and ultimately help improve the health and wellbeing of the boroughs’ residents.

Together an Active Future, the Sport England Pilot in Pennine Lancashire which supports Creative Football, comments:

We’re excited to play our part in helping Creative Football expand their offer in ways that make a real difference to the lives of people with Long Term Conditions.

The Creative Football team understand and demonstrate the power of social connections through being more active, which improves overall wellbeing and importantly plays a vital role in helping people reduce the symptoms of their condition. We’re proud to back this initiative and do what we can to ensure it goes from strength to strength.

The launch event was a great success and attended by over 50 people from a range of organisations including Mind2Muscle who will deliver a tailor made warm-up prior to each session.

Katherine Wheatley, who has Parkinson’s disease turned up to join the session. She said:

Exercise for me is as important as taking tablets.  I feel so much better by being active, I can’t tell you what a difference it has made – I’ve been able to reduce my medication!

Representatives from National Walking Football Association also supported the launch session.  One of representatives, Dave said:

I used to love football and played until my 40s but I had to give up because of my knees, I can’t run anymore.  I started playing golf but I missed football and the team camaraderie.  I’ve made new friends by joining a walking football session and would encourage everyone regardless of your gender, age and ability to give it a go!

If you know someone who could benefit from the Walking Football sessions, find out more by visiting, emailing, messaging via social media or calling on 01254 661501.

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