DENTON’S walking football group has been given a huge boost after landing funding for more equipment and time on the pitch.The collective, better known as Tameside Striders, has received a four-figure sum that means they will be able to hold more sessions at their King Street base, home of Denton Youth FC.
And because of the cash injection, worth some £1,600, they will also be able to add new things to training.
More than half the grant will cover increased pitch rental for an extra hour on Thursdays for a year, meaning they are on the surface for about five hours each week.
The rest of the money will be spent on training equipment such as slalom poles to improve balance and co-ordination.
Alan Richards, of Tameside Striders, said of the boost from the Ambition for Ageing group: “We are most grateful to Ruth Madden and her staff for supporting us once again in pursuit of providing opportunities for older people, particularly in south Denton to get active, interactive and to become fitter in body and mind.
“With the poles, this slightly more serious approach to helping people get off the couch and into the fresh air remains light hearted at its core.
“It’s primarily aimed at men over 65 on a Thursday with no upper age limit. We also welcome women aged 35 plus and it’s thought we will attract more to sample what’s on offer, plus the door is always open for former players to return for another go at the game.
“Minimal ability is required, and this extra hour on Thursday will not be developed beyond novice level in the medium term.
“Any accomplished players who wish to join us will be channelled to different sessions. It’s thought we’ll spend about 25 minutes training on ball skills, followed by a fun game without goalkeepers and using miniature goals.
“We’ll also have ball rebounders – imagine a trampoline on its side – to help players improve their first touch and bring a bouncing ball under control.
“A ‘rebounder board’ for firmer passing practice and passing ‘arcs’ through which to steer the ball from a variety of distances.
“We’ll have to have a lot of extra footballs to keep everyone busy and Amibition for Ageing’s generosity will help us build on our current stock.
“Bibs and some display material complete the planned and approved spend.”
Striders compete in walking football leagues and Alan admitted any newcomers are in line for a discount for the first year.
He added: “At first, more experienced players who each pay £3 for their 90 minute session will be asked to stay on afterwards to support the training.
“But as new faces turn up the extra hour will become a special session and for at least 12 months it will cost just £1 for newcomers to take part. You can’t get much for a pound these days. We offer friendship and camaraderie, enjoyment and exercise and a chance to inject something new into your life every Thursday.”
Denton Walking Football Group is also staging two referee’s courses this month and next month toprovide officials with everything they need to deliver our games within the rules.
Alan continued: “We are fortunate to have some good referees among our number and several more who wish to take up the whistle in the future.
“If all goes to plan the ratio of officials to players could be as high five players to one ref.
“This high because almost all of our Referees love to play the game as well so they’ll get opportunities to do both.”
And the Striders will follow in the footsteps of some of their heroes – the ones who are Manchester City fans anyway – as they play three matches at the club’s former Platt Lane training ground on Friday, December 6.
However, their Christmas event comes on Thursday, December 12 at Denton Golf Club with 70 people expected to attend for their awards evening.
And Alan quipped: “It’s election night but we had no idea when we arranged it. Whatever the outcome we’ll walk into a new year full of optimism in a mood to build our group further!”
If you want to get involved, you can contact the group through its website at www.tamestriderswalkingfootball.org.uk or call Alan on 07397 174934.