Colchester United Community Foundation’s weekly walking football sessions have seen continued success and ever-growing numbers over the course of the 2022/23 season. One regular participant Lee, recently told us his story and how much the quality of his life has improved, thanks to having access to walking football.
Lee was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2012 and was soon referred to walking football by medical staff who support Lee with his condition. His diagnosis soon began to impact a range of elements of his life, including his ability to work and socialise.
“I had to have a lot of time off work before becoming home-based, if I’m being honest, I lost a lot of confidence.”
As well as affecting Lee’s speech, he also has a right-sided weakness, symptoms of which include pins and needles and a leg drag, which are particularly evident during colder months.
“It’s massively improved my social skills, I’ve met loads of great people on the programme and the coaches have been brilliant and a big support. I’d recommend it to anyone who has diabetes or another neurological condition. It’s been a big benefit to my life, definitely.”
Lee used the word ‘Godsend’ when telling his story, and when speaking further on the changes he has noticed since he first started coming to the sessions, it is easy to understand why.
By his own admission, Lee had begun to wallow in his own self-pity, lost a lot of his confidence and was struggling with his mental health, finding the prospect of going out to be a daunting one. Now, thanks to walking football, Lee feels a sense of relief and a renewed self-confidence.
“Interacting with other people has played a huge part and a lot of social skills have come out of that, I think.
We’ve started going out on social events outside of the sessions, we’ve done some curry nights for example and we’ve also taken part in tournaments at Ipswich Town whilst representing Colchester United, which we all enjoyed massively. I’ve probably met 40-odd new friends as a result of coming here. It’s a pleasure to spend my evenings with the people here (players & staff).”
Walking football sessions are overseen and delivered by Ed King, who ended the conversation with Lee by asking if he would recommend the sessions, not to just to those with neurological conditions, but to anybody over the age of 50.
“Yeah, it’s not just the fitness and your football that improves, but it’s the people you meet, the new friends you make and new opportunities that you can be a part of.”
Walking Football takes place at the JobServe Community Stadium on a Thursday evening, from 5-6pm and is open to anyone over the age of 50, with a cost of £5.25 per session. To register interest, please email Edward.email@example.com