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England player encourages people to try walking football




England walking football player Paul Kirby drops in on new sessions at Monks House Lane Park in Spalding. Photo: (TIM WILSON) SG170518-124TW (2138149)
England walking football player Paul Kirby drops in on new sessions at Monks House Lane Park in Spalding. Photo: (TIM WILSON) SG170518-124TW (2138149)

A Spalding man who was picked to represent England in walking football, dropped in on new sessions at Monks House Lane Park to help promote the sport.

Paul Kirby (51), was selected from hundreds of players all over the country to make up a squad of ten to play for England in the first WFA (Walking Football Association) tournament against Italy on May 13.

The tournament was held at the Amex Stadium in Brighton and England won with a triumphant 2:0.

"There are so many reasons for doing walking football. Whether it's an injury, a weight issue; it can also help with mental health.
"I'd say to anyone just give it a go."

Paul used to play regular football for local clubs, including Spalding and Holbeach, until injury forced him to stop.

He said: "I played at a reasonable level back in the day, but, like all footballers, I had a lot of injuries and was coming up to 48/49 years old.

"I was playing against 35 year olds and they were playing pretty regularly. I had to give up in the end."

He didn't want to stop playing football completely and when he heard about walking football he decided to give it a go.

The nearest club at the time he could find was Stamford, who he still plays for.

"When I first said I was playing walking football my friends and family thought it was a bit of a laugh and a joke," he said.

"I was always the one running around, chasing, kicking people.

"They all said to me 'how is that going to work?' But after a couple of minutes of playing, I knew I was up to it.

"Since the England thing has come about people have been great."

And he has also met Tommy Charlton, brother of Sir Bobby and Jack, who is now an ambassador for walking football.

"He's a cracking guy," he said.

"There are so many reasons for doing walking football. Whether it's an injury, a weight issue; it can also help with mental health.

"I'd say to anyone just give it a go."

Walking football is for all ages, and both men and women. (SG170518-107TW) (2138158)
Walking football is for all ages, and both men and women. (SG170518-107TW) (2138158)

Walking football sessions now run every Tuesday evening at Rotten Row Park in Pinchbeck (6-7pm) and every Thursday morning in Monks House Lane Park near Woolram Wygate, in Spalding (9.30am-10.30am).

They are run by qualified football coach and referee Holly Barrett, of Give It Some Fizz Fitness, Sports and Education, and are for both men and women who want to learn new skills and play small sided games in a fun and friendly environment.

Holly, who played at national level in ladies' football, had an injury herself while at university which left her with a dislocated ankle, shattered tibia, fibula, metatarsals and ankle bones.

Told that she would never walk again, she not only proved doctors wrong but now teaches sport and started walking football sessions in Spalding and Pinchbeck to help others who enjoy the sport but prefer a slower pace.

The sessions are for all ages.

To get involved, contact Holly on 07800 566058. Sessions are £5.



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