FOOTBALL BECOMES A WALK IN THE PARK FOR AIREDALE RESIDENTS Game On, the successful football programme delivered by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, has extended its outreach activities to include a walking football session for elderly residents. Delivered in partnership with Wakefield Council, qualified coaches will be on hand to run the ‘Turn up and Play’ sessions which are free of charge and are held between 11am and 1pm every Wednesday at the Hut in Airedale. Tackling loneliness and poor health caused by isolation and inactivity, the programme gives football fans and former players of all abilities the opportunity to take part in regular physical exercise, whilst also reigniting their passion for the sport. Walking football has become increasingly popular in recent years and is recognised as an effective way for senior residents to stay fit and healthy, reduce their risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease and also improve their balance and strength. It is hoped that the walking football sessions will encourage older people to socialise and feel more involved in their local community. Kat Clarke, Development Manager for Game On (England), comments: “The health benefits of taking part in activities such as walking football are massive, not just in terms of improved physical health, but also in terms of meeting new people, reduced social isolation and increased mental wellbeing.” “Game On has traditionally engaged with young people but the model for the programme is to use sport as a platform to engage, to socialise and also to get fit. Extending our sessions to include walking football means that we can be more inclusive and offer sessions irrelevant of age. Football is an excellent way to bring people together of all abilities and to have some fun.” Former mining communities continue to struggle with long-term ill health with statistics reporting that 7.6% of people consider their health to be bad or very bad compared to the national average of 5.6%, while 11.7% of coalfield residents have long-term health problems that limit day to day activities compared with 8.6% nationally.