Tameside Striders - Walking Football

Guest blog: Alan Richards

Tameside Striders is a Walking Football group which meet to play every Tuesday at 10am. throughout the year at Denton Youth F.C. King Street, in Denton. We are carrying forward the walking football initiative facilitated by Age UK Tameside.

Our games are aimed at Over 50’s men (no upper age restriction) with a certain level of fitness who still enjoy playing the game, albeit at a much slower pace. The game is catching on all around the country. We play for twenty minutes each way in our internal games. Always on all weather ‘astroturf’ pitches. We play in ALL weathers too – rain does not stop us!

We ask a few routine health questions on our ‘signing on form’ and players indicate upon signing that they take part at their own risk. none of us are getting any younger, after all. There is a £2 fee paid by each player when they play and a one off signing on fee of £5 at Denton, payable within one month. This gives you a chance to see if you enjoy the experience. That’s the negatives out of the way.

Our internal games are mildly competitive. The result matters but is not important. The games end with handshakes and a cup of tea. Cameras are often around and there may be a team photo and some action shots too. Sometimes we video our games for the group’s website. Tongue in cheek match reports help reinforce a feeling of camaraderie and belonging. Performances are NOT criticised.

This is a great way to get out and make new friends and acquaintances.

For internal , weekly games we players supply our own shirts, shorts and socks – any kind or colour of tee shirt will do. Players are supplied with different coloured ‘bibs’ to differentiate between the teams. Wear trainers or footwear designed for astroturf. NOT FOOTBALL BOOTS.

If we play external games against other clubs then we will provide kit, and laundering. The rules we play to are easy to learn. The main one being – NO RUNNING. There is limited physical contact with no sliding tackles or heavy challenges allowed. Shoulder charging is ruled out and there is minimal upper body contact too.

You can head a rising ball but there is no obligation to do so – especially if you wear glasses ! So rediscover the thrill of scoring a goal or making a decisive pass. If you still miss the game you loved when younger, it’s never too late. There is NO upper age limit. Just arrive with an open mind and don’t take yourself too seriously. Play with a smile, and put some fun football back into your life. We are all of mixed ability – some good, some average, and some might need to sharpen up a little. That comes with practice. All are welcome and the sessions are inclusive.

There are twice weekly sessions at our ‘sister’ group at Curzon Ashton ‘The Nash Amblers’ in addition to what goes on at Tameside Striders. Along with ‘Vintage Celtic’ at Stalybridge, Walking Football is well catered for locally. This game is growing remarkably quickly nationwide.

Be a part of it and remember - it’s never too late. For more information, contact me on 07758 032281 or email: alartic@googlemail.com