Best foot forward

Their days of jet-booting up the sideline, slide tackling their opponents from under their feet or motoring to blast a shot at target may be behind them but these football fanatics say they will never give up their playing days, even if they are walking on the pitch.

This is something “walking footy” enthusiast, Dawn Ehrenreich, takes to heart and is the reason why she is at the forefront of trying to get the game up and running across the city by including as many senior members of the public as she can muster, all in the name of the beautiful game.

“We had a group of tourists from the UK down in Cape Town in January who introduced us to what they call ‘walking footy’ and we organised a little game against them while they were down here. A lot of them came back to us and said that was one of the highlights of their trip.

“From there we decided we would like to get something up and running on a more regular basis to give back to those older players who want to re-live some of their glory days.

“The rules of walking footy are pretty much the same as regular soccer, with one difference, that you have to walk. We play in small teams of seven-a-side and there are no off-side rules. The game has really given a lot of old folk a sense of belonging again and that is one of the main aims of the game,” she said.

The group has had some success in fielding teams of players over the age of 50, whom the game of walking footy specifically targets and even have some players in the over 70 category.

Importantly, says Ehrenreich, the idea is to be inclusive of all communities and they are trying to spread their idea far and wide.

“We have had games in Lansdowne and we have a group in Lentegeur that are beginning to have regular bi-weekly practice sessions. Our goal is to have monthly gatherings at different locations but at the moment we are struggling to find regular venues that we can use.

“We are hoping to appeal to gyms and other institutions in the area to come on board where we can maybe have weekly training sessions for our players. It is important to remember that what this game does is give players some physical as well as mental exercise, which, as one gets older, is very important if you want to maintain good quality of life.

“We are very excited about this and you can just see the positive effects right away.

“Besides the health benefits there is social and nostalgic value in bringing the old folk together and it gives them a chance to interact with their peers in a way that they otherwise would not be able to do.

“We want them to feel like they still have a space in our communities and that they are still of value, this is just one way we can show our appreciation and give back.

“We are still in contact with our UK friends and have partnered with them for some financial assistance,” says Ehrenreich.

For more information contact Dawn on 072 334 2806 or 021 372 1001.