Old rivalries and new friendships at the Walking Football match in Balbriggan

December 2, 2019 0

Old rivalries and new friendships was the theme for last Saturday’s Walking Football match between the Glebe Walkers and Drogheda Town. Walking Football is aimed at over 55’s to get back playing football. As the name suggests, players must walk while playing the match with a free kick given against any player caught running.

The Walking Football in Balbriggan started in November 2018 with just three men and has since grown to a group of 12-16 men playing every Tuesday. The lads recently took part in a walking football blitz hosted by the FAI in the newly opened National Indoor Arena where ten teams lined out to play.

A year on and an exhibition match was set up between the Glebe Walkers and Drogheda Town. The organiser Martin Reilly had been in touch with an old friend from Drogheda and they decided they were going to arrange this match as an opportunity for old foes to meet up and battle it out on the pitch once again.

Any preconceptions of walking football were quickly diminished with an excellent technical display from both teams on this sunny Saturday afternoon on Glebe Norths astro pitch. This game was by no means slow as some ex League of Ireland and Leinster Senior League players showed that they never lost it with goals, goals and more goals.

FAI Grassroots Development Manager said: ‘it is fantastic to see the game being played in such great spirit. I am delighted to see walking football taking off in Balbriggan and hopefully the lads from Drogheda can get something going too. We would be delighted to have them involved in the next blitz on 18th January.”

Bill Kelly from the Drogheda side commented; “we only get to see each other at funerals now so that was one of the reasons we decided to arrange the game, so we could meet up in happier circumstances. We had never heard of or seen walking football before this match. We really enjoyed the match on Saturday and hopefully we can get a regular group playing in the new year.”

The Walking Football programme in Balbriggan was initially an initiative set up between Fingal County Council Sports Officer, Ciaran Russell and the FAI Development Officer Paul Keogh. Glebe North FC have now embraced the group as part of their club and will continue to support the lads into the future.