And Ali Yukselir – who runs a busy chip shop in Queen’s Road – is fulfilling a lifelong ambition by putting some money into a club he is also playing for.
Ali is Kurdish and has lived in the UK for more than 25 years and is a talented striker who played football to a decent standard in his home country. He joined Hastings 1066 Walking Football Club last year and holds the club record of 12 goals scored in one game.
He said: “Fish and chips is my living but football is my life! I am pleased to provide new kit for next season. When I came to Hastings I knew nobody – now I have good friends and we all play good football together.
“My dream is to play international walking football. It might be long way off, but who knows?”
Ali’s chippie, Oh My Cod in Queen’s Road, is a former winner of the Observer’s chip shop of the year contest and the business has become an informal hub for the team, with several new players being recruited over a bag of chips.
The club is an over-50s outfit which had been run under the auspices of Active Hastings for several years before it became an entity in its own right with affiliation to the Walking Football Association WFA last year.
Playing membership has grown through the pandemic and the club’s inaugural chairman, Phil Aspinall, has big plans for the club as it approaches its first annual meeting in March.
He said: “ We had our kit sponsored for printing the club badges last year but now Ali has stepped in and bought the shirts and printing.
“He is a valuable player in the team and as a local businessman is able to put something back into the community. Most of the lads get their fish and chips from him and as a result his business grows too.”
Obviously coronavirus restrictions put a stop to grassroots sports but the club is ready to start training again from Monday March 29. Anyone over 50 (over 40 for women) is welcome to go to the MUGA cage in Alexandra Park on Mondays at 6pm or Saturdays at 10am to see if it’s a sport they want to play.
Chairman Aspinall added: “We play the same beautiful game – just a bit slower. We keep fit, we make new friends and we have fun with football. You can’t have a better combination.”
For more visit www.hastingswalkingfootball.co.uk