The Cambrian Village Trust walking football project has been led by volunteer coach Rob Jones since its inception in early 2018. The scheme peaked with a couple of well-attended regular weekly sessions before the pandemic struck. The latter stages of 2020 had the throng re-unite while new faces also came on board before another lockdown terminated that era of exercise.
In the missing period when on the pitch action ceased the group kept in touch through What’s App and Messenger groups set up by Rob and spirits were raised through banter and humour that meant a lot during the dark, difficult days of either no face to face or foot to ball contact!
Detailed planning, revived acquaintances and a fresh interest has led to a successful 2021 return. After a lengthy lay off the group are back on a Sunday, 11am to 12noon at a cost of £3 per person. Walking football is again to the fore at the 3G, Clydach Vale running alongside a range of other activities offered including walking rugby.
Rob, 59 says:
‘A great deal goes on behind the scenes with a need to meet covid requirements added to the package. There is also promotion and publicising, social media needs, ensuring pitch availability, organising and cleansing equipment, informing participants, planning the sessions, form filling, uniting the players, making everyone feel at home, running the hour long get together and packing away the gear. I am liaising with other teams organising fixture options as an extra treat for our gang – and, we recently welcomed Port Talbot scoring a well-earned victory against the visitors.
The group was aimed at over 50’s but the door is open to a wide demographic and younger souls have also enjoyed themselves. A warm up with some stretches, simple ball drills and a game make for diversity in the delivery with drink breaks also put in place. A sensible approach is crucial, ensuring that participants are prepared and that comes from someone who is awaiting a knee replacement!’
The credit from the players is also a tonic, and the following comments back this up:
Huw Jones, 63:
‘After being diagnosed with diabetes, I realised I needed to change my lifestyle and improve my health, through healthier foods plus exercise. I was a very unhealthy 20 stones but I gradually kicked my poor diet into touch and started exercising slowly. One of the more enjoyable exercise routines is walking football which combines my love of football and healthy outdoor exercise with a great bunch of like minded individuals. I’ve been taking part in walking football for over 3 years – and, Rob is not only a fantastic organiser, but is really focused on getting people involved to better their health whilst being part of a friendly group.
I now weigh under 15 stones and can’t wait for Sunday mornings – rain, hail or sunshine to be part of such a welcoming, friendly bunch. It’s only an hour, but it’s well worth the effort. Thanks Rob for your time and efforts, it is very much appreciated by all the boys’.
Gareth Lewis, 67:
‘I must congratulate all the people involved in promoting walking football at Cambrian Playing field in particular Rob Jones for his efforts. I am 67 years of age and always been involved in all capacities of running the game. This however gives me an outlet, keeps me interested and maintains a fitness required – hopefully for many years’.
Phil Jones, 61:
‘While people knock walking football – until they play competitively for 30 minutes they have not got a clue. It’s non stop and gets you in a good lather’.
Lyndon Murphy, 60:
‘Walking football is a fun way of keeping fit. We have a laugh and keep fit at the same time. Walking football is also a great way to make new friends. If you’ve played sport all of your life why stop, walking football is a fun way to keep on playing sport. No matter what level of ability you are, Rob always has time to help you become a better player – he’s a great coach. Stop procrastinating and get up to the Cam 3G, it’s great’.
Tyrone Griffiths, 51:
‘The walking football sessions have it all – fun, fitness, and meeting new people. It’s a really friendly group and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome. Your personal football skills are irrelevant here so there is no pressure. I travel a 44 mile round trip every Sunday morning to take part and honestly it’s worth every mile’.
Lee Wenham, 54:
‘I was a doubter and could not see the value of walking football. I was persuaded to join the Clydach Vale session and now I would not miss them. This involves a return journey from and to Roath but the benefits of participating in this exercise pay dividends. I would thoroughly recommend coming along and joining in with a good crowd.
Sally Fowler – Community Development Partnership Manager at Cambrian Village Trust (CVT):
‘CVT piloted a healthy living project called Strive & Thrive and one of its main aims was to encourage people of all ages and abilities to engage in sport. Many hadn’t heard of walking football but the sessions on CVT’s 3G futsal pitch have changed ideas and lives. Many voices had previously voiced opinions such as: I always thought that it was for fit young men; I don’t have the energy anymore; I used to play for a team but I have put on weight; and, I would rather watch it on the TV. However, now it is a case that a number of people are no longer on the side lines, they are on the pitch, enjoying the team camaraderie and improving their physical and mental health’.
The activity is part of a range of services in the community that are being highlighted as part of Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board’s #YourLocalTeam campaign:
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the range of professionals and activities in the community that can help patients without the need to go to the GP.
To join the Cambrian group please ring 01443 433853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).