A walking football club for people over 50 is aiming to help people in Salford to maintain good physical and mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Salford Community Walking Football Club, or SALCOM, train on Monday and Friday every week at Salford Sports Village.
Walking football allows the players to play at an easier pace with no contact and the sport has seen a rise in popularity in recent years.
Most of the group are in their sixties and seventies and the majority play for fun. However, some of the members of the team have entered competitions and played abroad before lockdown.
SALCOM has around 60 regular players and 6 of these are currently socially isolating.
David Wright, one of the club’s players said: “If I don’t play football then I just sit around and do nothing. It keeps me alive.
“During lockdown, it’s something to look forward to so I won’t miss a session when I’m not working, even if it’s throwing it down.”
We’re a close brotherhood so we all make sure each other is okay.”
Trevor Aston, another regular player at SALCOM said before the pandemic he went on sightseeing trips with his wife but since lockdown, he hasn’t been able to travel.
SALCOM has allowed Trevor to regain the social element of his life that he had missed since restrictions were imposed.
He said: “We’ve been off for 6 months but once this started again, it’s getting me out the house two or three days a week to have a proper chat.
“You can talk to your wife so much but at the end of the day there’s only two of you and you do need things to do and places to go.”
“Even if you’re hearing about bad news, because we have had some bad news in the club – it’s about having a conversation and having someone to talk to and see.”
According to AGE UK, depression affects around 22% of men aged 65 and over but 4 out of 5 never receive any help from the NHS.
Eric Lowndes, club secretary said SALCOM has been a useful tool in helping the player’s mental health during the pandemic.
He said: “Lots of the lads said they were struggling after lockdown and they were desperate to get back and play.”
“It’s so important socially and it gives people something positive to focus on.
“In better times, many of the players would go for a chin wag after over a cup of coffee.”
“We find that most men relax and happily talk football – it’s a great route to forming friendships.
“As we get to know each other well, we find that many share personal problems, but it’s good to just play and forget our worries.”
For more information on SALCOM visit here.