Footballers in Leeds are getting a kick out of some new soccer sessions with a difference.
The popular walking football sessions are currently being run at Pudsey and Armley leisure centres.
Designed to help men of all ages to get into the sport, including those who may have stopped playing through injury or those new to football, walking football is a version of the game that focusses on skill with the ball rather than pace.
The rules are the same as indoor football, with the only difference being that players are not allowed to run and anyone who does concedes a free kick.
Free taster sessions at Armley and Pudsey, with six or seven players a side, have proved a big hit, and now the council is hoping to establish a network of similar sessions at other centres across the city.
Phil Riley, Leeds City Council’s STRIKER manager and co-ordinator of the scheme, said:
“Football is always a really popular activity in Leeds, but we’re aware that there are some people who really want to play but who might struggle to keep up with younger players, need to build up their fitness or might have stopped playing because of an injury, which means they find a full-paced game difficult.
“Walking football is perfect for anyone who wants to play and really puts the emphasis on skill with the ball, control, passing and finishing rather than how fast you can run.”
Walking football sessions are currently taking place at Pudsey every Thursday evening from 7pm until 8pm, priced at £3 or £2.50 with a LeedsCard.
Sessions at Armley take place on Mondays from 12pm until 1pm, also priced at £3 or £2.50 for LeedsCard holders.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills, said:
“Walking football is a great example of how sport can help break down barriers for those who want to get involved but who might not be sure how to find their way into physical activity.
“Age and experience are no boundary to getting active and those who are playing walking football are proof positive of that.
“It’s great that we’ve seen such a positive response to these first few sessions and I hope more people will be inspired to come along and have a go.”
For more information about walking football sessions, please contact Phil Riley on 0113 3951688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org