Northumberland’s first Ladies Walking Football festival raises charity cash and supports food banks

Northumberland’s first ever ladies’ walking football festival has been hailed a huge success.
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Held in Ashington, it raised much-needed funds for Ashington Life Centre, collected donations for Wansbeck Valley Foodbank, and more than 40 women took part.

The walking football club is organised by Ashington Town Football club and aims to encourage people to maintain or adpot a more active lifestyle, regardless of weight, age or health.

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Sean Chaplin, from the Ashington Town Walking Football Group, said: “Our ladies' sessions are going from strength to strength and as the name suggests, only walking is allowed – no jogging, running or sprinting!

A huge amount of food was donated at the festival, which is heading to the Wansbeck Valley Foodbank.A huge amount of food was donated at the festival, which is heading to the Wansbeck Valley Foodbank.
A huge amount of food was donated at the festival, which is heading to the Wansbeck Valley Foodbank.

“The classes are giving women an opportunity to play and enjoy this popular sport at a slower pace, helping them to keep an active lifestyle regardless of their age or fitness level.

“We had a great day and a great turnout at our festival.

"Everyone got into the Christmas spirit, and it was really encouraging to see the friendships and camaraderie that are developing as a result of the group.”

The festival was supported by Northumberland County Council’s sports development team and Get Onside funding.

The football group encourages ladies of any ability to get involved.The football group encourages ladies of any ability to get involved.
The football group encourages ladies of any ability to get involved.
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Get Onside is a new activity programme from Sport England, funded by the National Lottery, and delivered by the Football Foundation, which is supporting people of Ashington and Berwick to get more active and involved in sport.

Jake Preece, sports development officer at Northumberland County Council, said: “Walking Football is a fantastic team sport which helps counter social isolation but the mental and physical health benefits from regular gentle exercise are also enormous.

“Walking Football is experiencing a massive surge in popularity and there have been some men’s groups running in the county for a couple of years. Some of those participants have told us they are getting better cholesterol readings, balance, mobility and quite a few are losing weight so there are some great health benefits involved too.

“It’s great that this ladies’ team is thriving, and I am excited to see how that progresses, not just in Ashington but around the county too.”

The Ashington Town Ladies Walking Football Group meet on Saturdays between 10am-11.30am at Josephine Butler Campus, Ashington.

It is £3 per session, but the first session is free.