LOCALS in Ballymun have an opportunity to walk right back to happiness, and fitness, thanks to the latest initiative set up by the Bohemian Foundation.
The foundation is a small group of club officials and volunteers from Bohemian FC who work to improve the quality of life for Northsiders, while getting the club’s name out to a wider audience.
Their latest venture is a walking football facility for older men at Poppintree Sports Centre in Ballymun, which was officially launched last week.
The aim of the project is to encourage people over the age of 50 to get active in a sport invented in England in 2011 as a way of keeping older people involved in the beautiful game.
The game can be played indoors or outdoors and the main difference from soccer is that if a player runs, they concede a free-kick to the opposition.
The emphasis is on participation and fun, meaning everybody gets a game, but like all sport, everybody wants to win – and in a way, everybody does as it increases activity levels and gets players fitter.
“We’ve already done a few initiatives for younger people and for prisoners in Mountjoy but we felt one area that was lacking was with older, retired or unemployed people,” explained Chris Brien from Bohemian Foundation.
“It allows people who wouldn’t normally get out to do a bit of sport to get involved in a non-contact game that’s easy on the bones and muscles.
“It’s also a great opportunity to meet people and get out of the house, and that’s equally as important as the exercise.”
The idea is being backed by Age Action Ireland and if successful, will be rolled out to other areas across the city.
“You’re never too old to put one past the ‘keeper and we’re delighted to team up with the Bohemian Foundation to encourage people to get active and get out on the pitch,” said Justin Moran of Age Action.
The aim of the project, which runs every Friday from 1-3pm at Poppintree Sports Centre, is to encourage people over the age of 50 to get active, but players a bit younger with health problems can also get involved.
There are big health benefits to walking football, which promotes cardiovascular fitness while minimising stress on the body. But apart from fitness walking football also offers social benefits, encouraging participants to meet new people and avoid becoming isolated.
Anybody interested in playing can turn up at Poppintree Sports Centre on Fridays from 1-3pm. It’s free and refreshments are provided. All potential players need to do is bring their runners or trainers.