A football club - with a vital difference - is growing in popularity in Stamford and on Sunday hosted its first charity match.
Stamford AFC Strollers - a walking football club - was established about nine months ago and has grown from a six-a-side game to running three weekly sessions at the Borderville Sports Complex with in excess of 20 people at each session.
With rules designed to reduce the speed and physicality of the game, the format is suited to those over 50 and Stamford’s oldest player - at the moment - is a sprightly 76 year old.
The rules include the obvious - no running - but also no shoulder barging, slide tackles or aggressive tackling, meaning men and women can play together.
There’s also a ‘courtesy rule’ - an unofficial rule that calls on players with greater mobility or skills to ‘stand-off’ players with lesser skills or mobility to ensure everyone has a good game.
The core of the sport revolves around weekly, friendly kick-abouts but as the Stamford team, which also attracts players from Bourne, has grown, they now play friendly games against other towns and enter tournaments across the UK, where there are believed to be more than 650 clubs. It really escalated when the sport was featured on an advert for Barclays Bank.
They even attended a walking football tournament in Portugal and are set to take on Shrewsbury’s walking football team, ahead of Shrewsbury taking on Peterborough United on Tuesday, September 27.
Taff Lovesey, 57, of Witham-on-the-Hill, initially started playing walking football in Netherton but decided to start the group in Stamford. Initially associated with the college, he then teamed up with Guy Walton - a director of the Daniels - to affiliate the clubs and Stamford AFC Strollers was born.
Sunday’s charity game in aid of Cash for Kids saw players from Stamford, Bourne, Glinton, Northborough, King’s Cliffe and Netherton, take part in a four-team round robin.
The day raised £143 - but more importantly it was a fun afternoon and Taff wants to see more people getting involved in the sport.
He said: “Taking the speed out of it makes it more accessible and it’s fantastic.
“Walking football is not only about rediscovering lost talents and rekindling that adrenaline rush from the game but it’s also a social event with good natured spectators and friendly banter between teams and players.
“What really stands out though is the camaraderie between players and teams, whether during a weekly kick about or in more competitive multi-team tournaments. Every event is played in good spirit and those that spectate also seem to have a good time with smiling faces all around.”
Stamford AFC Strollers run three sessions a week - Tuesdays between midday and 1pm and Thursdays between 5pm and 6pm - both aimed at those over 50 - and Thursdays between 6pm and 7pm, aimed at 45s and over. Sessions are £3 pay and play and are facilitated by a club representative. They are open to men and women and those under the age limit shown are allowed to play if they have mobility or fitness issues.
To find out more visit www.stamfordstrollers.org.uk