Walk in the park for ’Well players

Although now in his 70s former Motherwell player Billy Reid is still keen to show off his skills.
Although now in his 70s former Motherwell player Billy Reid is still keen to show off his skills.

It may not yet have found favour in the professional game, but Motherwell’s older footballers are embracing summer football.

Funded by North Lanarkshire Carers Together and the Big Lottery, Motherwell FC Community Trust initially launched Walking Football as a winter activity.

However, with numbers dropping due to the weather, a page has been taken from the women’s game and the season now runs from February to October on the Fir Park astroturf.

Community engagement officer Derek Watson said: “Walking Football is exactly the same as normal football, except there is no running, although that doesn’t stop the players from trying to break into a sprint now and again.

“When we first launched we got a great response, and thought with being on the artificial surface that it was something that could be played during the winter months to keep people active at that time of year.

“However, we have found that despite initially getting a good response that the numbers started to tail off as the Scottish weather came in, so we’ve had a rethink and now aim to play from around February to October.

“Walking Football is for over 60s, but we aren’t going to exclude people if they are in their 50s.

“Our oldest player is in his 90s so the slow pace of the really does allow for pretty much anyone to play.

“There is also a great social aspect, one of the players told me he hadn’t been out of the house since his wife died, so it’s great that not only are we able to help people with their physical health and wellbeing, but perhaps also mentally too.

“We do also try and give advice on eating well and that sort of thing, but really they are old enough that we don’t push it too much.”

Among those who go along to the sessions at 1.30pm on Fridays is Motherwell legend Billy Reid.

He said: “I hadn’t kicked a ball for the best part of 40 years after I retired from the game and now at the age of 76 it’s good to get out there.

“You never lose your love for the game, it’s just that there comes a point your body doesn’t let you do it, but that’s why Walking Football is ideal as you still have the touch and technique, but it’s less physical.

“There is also the social aspect of it, it’s great going along and seeing the guys every week, we have developed quite a bond, it’s almost like being back in a team again.

“We might be getting on, but that is no excuse to just sit in the house, it doesn’t really matter what you do, but it is important to stay active as long as possible.”

For more information about Walking Football call Derek on 01698 239926.