Matthew

Age: 21

Lives: Welwyn Garden City

Foundation Programme: Walking Football

Favourite Position: Striker or Goalkeeper


Why did you first get involved with Walking Football?

I love playing football. My disabled football group folded because of lack of funding. I found walking football when I was looking for another football group. Mum spoke to Ozzie at the Foundation who was helpful in identifying a session for me, and since then we have never looked back.

 

How many times a week do you take part in Walking Football sessions?

Once a week. Sometimes more if there is a tournament or festival.

 

Describe the buzz you get having the opportunity to play a team sport and the impact its had on you?

I get a buzz from playing fun but competitive football. I also find that socialising with people at walking football gives me a boost. This is because of my condition which means I cannot meet up with other people outside of walking football very easily. I also work from home which is very isolating.  The guys at my Walking Football session in Stevenage are all very friendly and really do feel like part of a team.

  

Have you played competitive Walking Football, if so which tournaments / leagues?

I have only taken part in walking football festivals and tournaments. No leagues.  The Foundation host tournaments every 6-8 weeks which are always very well organised and we get teams from across Hertfordshire and London that join us on a regular basis. All the teams now know each other, there is some terrific banter and everyone is really friendly, however there is still a competitive edge that we all love.

 

Do you feel fitter and healthier since you have started playing Walking Football and if please describe how?

I feel physically fitter because I can get around the pitch a lot easier now than when I first started walking football. I also feel mentally more positive. Due to my condition and circumstances I suffer with mild depression and walking football has helped me to cope with this. I always feel as though as ive had a good workout after walking football. Its both physically and mentally challenging and the feeling after is always really good as if you have achieved something positive.

Can you describe any injuries you have suffered when playing Walking Football and can you let the readers know how they were caused?

I have not suffered any injuries whilst at walking football. We are really lucky that the coaches put us through a really good warm up, the rules are strict so no contact is made, and we always do a good cool down. A few players pull up with muscle injuries from time to time, but that's to be expected. Ive been lucky to date.

 

Has your social life changed since you started playing, and if so in what way?

As a result of walking football I am now a season ticket holder of Stevenage Football Club. This has then meant I have met up with some of my friends from walking football at Stevenage home games. I also see a lot of The Foundation coaching team in and around the ground on match days who always make me feel welcome and stop for a chat. Its a really nice relaxed family atmosphere at Stevenage.

After tournaments the Foundation will always put on teas and coffees and food. Its a great to chat to other teams and have a social after a morning of competitive football.

 

Does your club or facility where you play Walking Football hold any social or charity events connected with Walking Football and if so what were they?

We had a charity month in September to raise money for Prostate Cancer where around £500 was raised.  For each session in the month we paid our training session fee and also made a donation to the charity. There was also a football festival at the end of the month to raise money for the charity. The Foundation said that off the back of the Prostate Cancer fundraiser that they would be keen to do more charity events, so we all look forward to the next campaign they kick-off.

 

What are your best and worst memories of playing Walking Football?

My best memory when playing was when I scored my first at walking football. I cannot think of any bad memories at walking football.

 

How else has playing Walking Football affected your life?

It has given me something to look forward to during the middle of the week and I can enjoy going to Stevenage home games at the weekend when I am off work.  

 

What do you like most about Walking Football?

I most like the fact that there is a good balance between being competitive but playing to have fun.

 

What do you like least about Walking Football?

Being woken up by mum at 8:30am!

 

Do you find it difficult NOT to run and what advice could you give someone in how to remain at walking pace?

I do find it difficult not to run at certain times in walking football. My best advice would be to try and walk around even if it costs your team possession. This is because over a number of sessions of walking football you will find it easier to remain at walking pace as it will become more natural.  

What are your goals for the future when playing Walking Football?

My goals for the future are to strengthen my weaknesses as a player. I would like to improve my defensive game. I also have a goal to make any newcomers to walking football feel welcome because I know how important that was for me.

 

What advice would you give to someone who would like to play but is nervous about approaching a club or attending a Walking Football session for the first time?

My advice would be to join a club as soon as possible because the people at walking football will make you feel welcome and they are very friendly. I have a very strong view about this because I am very nervous about joining new clubs myself. It was also very hard for my mum to persuade me into going that first time but since then I have wanted to go every week.     

 

What do your friends and family think about you playing Walking Football?

My parents are a little nervous about me going to each session because of my condition. Otherwise they think it is a really good idea because it helps keep me fit and it I get to play walking football.

 

Anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to thank everyone at Stevenage FC Foundation Walking Football for producing the sessions, matches and tournaments. I would also thank everyone at walking football including the players for making me feel welcome when I was a newcomer at the club. Its been life-changing.....