Bexhill footballers who look forward to walking back to action

The over-65 squadThe over-65 squad
The over-65 squad
During lockdown, members of the Old Bexhillians Walking Football Club have not been quiet – with thoughts firmly on when they can play again.

Players have been talking among themselves and various proposals have been discussed by the committee about the way forward when normal service resumes.

Walking football was first played by the Chesterfield Community Trust in 2011 and really took off after a Barclays Bank advert in 2014. Since then the activity has gone from strength to strength. There are more than 800 WF clubs in the UK at present.

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The basic idea is that over-50s can participate in a sport that perhaps they last played in their early 30s before the playing of football took a back seat.

Bexhill's walking footballers in a tournament at EastbourneBexhill's walking footballers in a tournament at Eastbourne
Bexhill's walking footballers in a tournament at Eastbourne

The Old Bexhillians have been in existence since 2014, formed in an initiative by Age UK South East. After input from their officers Charles Sheldon and Sue Reece, sessions were held at the Community Centre, Station Road, before a move to the purpose-built sports hall at the Leisure Centre Downs Road in 2016.

In 2017 a further session day was held on the G3 artificial surface at Bexhill College, Penland Road.

The club now have 30-plus participants, so at any time at least two squads represent the club. During the past two years the club have entered squads in under and over-65 national cup competitions.

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The ruling body is the Walking Football Association, who have drawn up rules that referees must abide by. All players must be over 50, no running ,on or off the ball, is allowed, and the ball must not exceed head height in play or be headed by a player. Perhaps the main maxim though is that it is a non-contact sport. No tackling is allowed.

The club have attracted three sponsors over the years including the aforementioned Age UK South East ,to whom the club will be eternally grateful. Harold`s Hog Roast Company and SBS Consumables followed them in supporting the club. Sadly one of the instigators, Sue Reece, passed away in 2016.

The club are holders of the South East WF League Trophy and were runners-up in the South East League Cup in 2019.

Last year the team entered an over-70s squad in an event and this will be ongoing feature. Players went on a playing tour to France last year.

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The club does need to increase its resources; especially the need for facilities to host events in the Bexhill area. They have reached an agreement with Little Common FC to use their grass facility on a weekend to hold a summer league and perhaps friendlies against local opposition.

This is still under discussion but the club can look forward to a facility in the area especially when and if Bexhill Leisure Centre is rebuilt.

The club will continue to hold indoor sessions at the venue when the lockdown eases.

Mick Davies took on the running of the club in 2016 and recently a committee was formed. Yoga and golf are also included in the club’s calendar.

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The club host quizzes and general fundraising for local charities and £2000 has been raised, another aspect of the club’s life

The club have grown in leaps and bounds and look forward to improvements in all areas with local backing and support.

The club are always open to new members – team manager Mike Davies can be contacted on 07961 008743 or by email at [email protected]

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