We’re delighted to have received funding from Active Sussex to deliver a Walking Football version of our successful Team Talk programme to older people in the Moulsecoomb and Hangleton areas of Brighton & Hove.

Research shows that Covid 19 has had a greater impact on people in lower socio economic groups, with older people and those with underlying health problems having had to be extremely careful and strictly socially distance through the pandemic. This can impact on people’s mental health and also mean that they have been less active over the past year which will negatively impact their physical wellbeing. 

There is, therefore, a need to provide activities which reconnect people with each other in their communities reducing isolation and loneliness and giving people the opportunity to make new friends and get more active. Activities need to be appropriate to the age and fitness of the group so that participants keep motivated and can see the gains they are making week-by-week. 

Team Talk is aimed at older men and women, aged around 55+ but, importantly, of similar fitness levels. The course will run weekly over 8 weeks with each session being an hour long – the Moulsecoomb sessions at Falmer Sports Complex and the Hangleton sessions at a venue to be confirmed in that area. Sessions will be fun – our intention is that people will enjoy and look forward to them, and they will be paced to meet the needs of the whole group – we don’t want anyone to feel that it is beyond their ability. 

Alongside training on the pitch we’ll have initial discussions on previous experience, levels of fitness and what participants want as outcomes from the programme. At the end of each course, we’ll combine the two groups from Hangleton and Moulsecoomb for a celebratory match!

Team Talk will be delivered to older people with lower levels of fitness and activity in some of the more disenfranchised areas of Brighton and Hove who have been disproportionately impacted by Covid. We know that if we demand too much of people too early, they will stop coming, so our focus is on assessing the groups and pitching the activity accordingly. 

Walking football has great health benefits for older people – The Walking Football Association states it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and contribute to lowering cholesterol, improving blood sugar levels, bone density and blood pressure. So the health benefits and mental health benefits of getting people outside and active along with being part of a group of people and forming friendships will all contribute to individual’s and the community’s recovery from Covid. Also, through our partnership with the Sports Science department at the University of Brighton, we will use sophisticated equipment and measurement techniques to record improvements in health and fitness. Alongside this, we will survey and measure participants’ mental health and wellbeing status at the beginning and end of the programme.

The course itself has been co-designed with the target age group to make sure it appeals and that we can retain players, gradually building their fitness and confidence. After the eight week course has finished we will encourage all players to continue to play walking football regularly through Montpelier Villa Community Football Club as they set up their first Walking Football operation and we can signpost other participants to other local walking football leagues near their area.

To sign up or for more information, contact Gary on gary@vydcic.org