Walking football picking up pace at FDC Flegg in Martham

Members of FDC at Flegg's walking football group, which meets on Thursday evenings.

Members of FDC at Flegg's walking football group, which meets on Thursday evenings. - Credit: David Hannant

When the new football development centre opened at Flegg High School it created a host of opportunities for the school’s pupils, and lovers of the sport in the surrounding area.

However, it is not just regular football that has received a boost in the area, as it has also brought another version of the beautiful game to the borough.

Every Thursday at 5pm, the centre hosts an adaptation of the game, set at a more comfortable pace - walking football.

The hour-long session is played with identical rules to five-a-side football with one exception - it is played at walking pace.

And despite the slower speed, its popularity is gathering pace..

Elliot Pride, development officer at FDC Flegg said: “Walking football is a great way for people who find the fast pace of regular five-a-side slightly tougher - be they slightly older people or those recovering from an injury.

“We’ve been running the sessions for a few weeks now and already have a regular group of people who come along, but there is always room for more people to come along. It’s proving particularly popular with people in their early 50s.”

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Mr Pride, a former Great Yarmouth Town and Gorleston player, added: “The sessions are just for fun at the moment, but as it grows we may look to add a more competitive element to it with tournaments.

“There is quite a lot of skill and thought involved in the game, as it takes a bit of adjusting from regular football.

“It’s much harder than you might think. I joined in a few weeks ago and found it a challenge, as in the usual paced game you’re often used to passing in front of a player for them to run onto, but with walking football you can’t really do that.”

Mr Pride added that the sport is particularly good for helping to keep active in later years of life.

“Walking football is a great way of keeping your active life up,” he said. “Often you find when people get past a certain age they let their levels of activity slip. Sports like walking football are good for making sure this doesn’t happen, without having to stay at an uncomfortable pace.

“There’s also quite a social element to it as well, which is another reason to get involved.”

Regular player Fred Rogers, 71 of Ludham, said: “It’s brilliant, it really gets the old heart going.”

The sessions run for 45 minutes and cost £2.50.