WHEN DID YOU START?
The “Senior Saints” held their first walking football session one morning back in October 2014 when just 6 players turned up. Over the next 6-9 months the numbers steadily grew and by Summer 2015, we were playing twice a week with 20 players taking part most sessions. Today, nearly 8 years later we still have a number of those players playing regularly and we now have over 70 players registered.
WHEN DO YOU PLAY?
We play Tuesday & Friday mornings and often have 100 sessions a year. We play under the “Brackley Town FC umbrella” , using their facilities and AGP pitch. Our current make up includes half a dozen players over 70, the majority between 60 and 70, and maybe a dozen under 60s. On occasions we’ve had 3 generations playing, sons, fathers, and grandads – as walking football is a great leveller.
WHAT IS WALKING FOOTBALL?
There’s no running. At Brackley we play 3-touch football, head height restrictions, no direct free kicks etc and I always say to players although it’s walking football it is strenuous and it’s up to you how much effort you put in. It’s a good exercise and it’s suitable for a whole range of people who have had health issues. For example - I’m playing twice a week after having both of my knees replaced and we have players who have had heart issues and stents fitted.
DO YOU ENTER COMPETITIONS?
We regularly enter walking football tournaments and have played at Witney, Northampton Town, Wembley, Bisham Abbey, Oxford United and Daventry (2021 we won the over 60s age Cup).
As a club we have gone out to Portugal four times and won the Over 60s EuroCopa Cup in 2018 – EuroCopa Cup is a Walking Football Tournament held in Albufeira, a competition that includes teams from Portugal, Spain, France & Scotland as well as England. We’ll hopefully be going back again next year.
We are in a little triangle of walking football clubs – with ourselves, Bicester Fossils and Cherwell Strollers (Banbury) and we often have players that play at 2 or 3 of these clubs and also friendlies amongst ourselves.
I IMAGINE THERE ARE SOCIAL BENEFITS OF PLAYING WALKING FOOTBALL?
A big part of walking football is not how good a footballer you are or about how hard you can kick the ball, but it is about the banter, friendship, and social elements for example during lockdown we held weekly quizzes and even had a daily email football game which at one point had 32 players taking part. Coming out of lockdown the guys at Bicester Fossils started a Thursday morning golf group and quite a number of us now take part in this each week.
One of the other nice things is that as a group we have supported different charities and number of us have had first aid training which at times has proved useful even outside the football arena.
Finally, I think it’s fair to say that because of walking football every one of the players who take part has found that their friendship circle has grown.