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It’s time for seniors to join walking football revolution

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Soccer for the sedate: Leroy Wilson is holding walking football sessions for men and women aged over 55 at Bermuda College on Fridays (photograph by Akil Simmons)

One of the fastest growing sports in the past decade is back up and running in Bermuda and it is aimed at seniors.

Walking football was invented in 2011 and there are now more than 1,000 active sessions and clubs in England alone with a World Cup to be held in Manchester this year featuring 32 teams from around the globe

Football legend Clyde Best and coach Leroy ‘Curly Joe’ Wilson are the men behind bringing the game to the island, with the programme going well before Covid struck, and training sessions, which take place in the Bermuda College gymnasium every Friday at 3pm, have recently resumed.

“We tried to get it going before the pandemic came and it was working pretty well,” Best said.

“I think it is a good thing because men and women can play together, it creates different friendships and that’s what I’m really interested in, everybody getting along. What better way to do it than by playing football?”

Best, 72, has recently had operations on his eyes to remove cataracts and improve his vision and he is keen to emphasise the benefits of physical activity for seniors.

“The older you get, the more activity you can have is good for you,” Best said.

“People in the medical field will tell you that if you have a lot of complaints and you are not doing anything that you are not going to heal. So you have to keep active to keep a lot of these things away fir as long as you can.”

“I usually go swimming and walking in the morning but since I’ve had my eyes done I haven’t been able to. I’m dying to get out there and start walking again because it makes you feel better, keeps weight down and It’s a win-win situation.

Leroy Wilson puts his players through their paces (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“It’s important for seniors not to be confined to the house all day and that they have somewhere to go.”

Best and coach Wilson are the best around and the former West Ham player was delighted to lend a hand when he received the call

“Curly and I do a lot of stuff together,” Best said. “We have some camps in Maryland and he asked me if I wanted to get involved in walking football.

“I had seen it in England and thought it was a very good idea. It’s not too intense, it’s not like you are running up and down. The hardest part is actually walking as your brain wants to run. The only time I remember walking was when we were winning 3-0 and trying to run the clock down.

“I really hope more people look at it and are able to participate. Curly is really into the coaching side and it is a no-brainer. I’m not interested in running any more and one day I’ll get involved.

Wilson is keen to point out the physical benefits and has big plans for the sport with the eventual dream of being able to select a team good enough for international competition.

Leroy Wilson (right) leads the Walking football warm-up (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“Three years ago I saw it in England and it was real big,” Wilson said.

“I wanted to try it here and get it started for seniord. We started before Covid and we have just had a couple of sessions back to try to get the numbers up.

“It’s not running, it’s just walking, so it’s more enjoyable. There are less injuries, there is no body contact and it’s fun. When you have fun you don’t realise you are exercising. The hardest part is not everybody has played so I have to be patient and teach the basics. I’m looking forward to that.

Peter Miller puts in the hard yards at Bermuda College (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“I want to do something during the FA Cup finals, maybe hold an exhibition during half time. My goal is to get a league going and then maybe take some teams to England.

“They have world cups in walking football and players are still active at 85-90 years old. Come up here, make friends and have fun.”

Lyndon Jackson, 57, has recently become an active participant and has been pleased to find football at a slower pace.

“It’s about keeping active and the coach is a big draw because his reputation in this space is second to none, but I knew that I would be able to get back into football without there being a hard approach to it,” Jackson said.

“I can ease back in, learn a little more about football and strategy but also have fun.

“At times it’s hard to rein yourself in as your competitive juices get flowing when you see things unfolding but coach does remind you what to do and pulls you up on it if you try to move too fast. It means you really have to think much further ahead.”

*Walking football is run under the auspices of Lifelong Learning Centre at Bermuda College, which works to improve the well-being and quality of life of people over 55 years of age, regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status or physical and mental ability. To find out more, visit their website

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Published February 03, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated February 04, 2023 at 10:55 pm)

It’s time for seniors to join walking football revolution

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