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Carl’s journey highlights the benefits of Walking Football

Carl Holdcroft’s love of Walking Football began two years ago when he came along to one of our sessions at Port Vale. Now coaching the weekly men’s sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Carl is proud of the journey that both he and the Vale club have been on.

“The Walking Football game at Vale has come a long way in such a short space of time”, Carl tells us. “We’ve got a great core of players who come week-in, week-out, not just for the physical activity but for the mental and social benefits of playing.”

“You can see a real difference in the players after a few weeks of coming along. Their movement, their thinking, their demeanour – it improves drastically just by taking part in Walking Football for one or two hours a week.”

“A lot of us stay after the sessions for a bit of a social, too, with tea and biscuits. It’s really good fun.”

Walking Football at Port Vale was set up by the Port Vale Foundation in 2017 and runs three times a week, giving men and women the opportunity to play the game at a slower pace. All the rules are the same as regular football, except that running and slide tackles are not allowed.

Port Vale has a competitive Walking Football team that has entered a number of tournaments. It was one tournament, in March 2018, that prompted Carl to take on a more senior role at Port Vale.

The team couldn’t field a full team at the tournament so had to borrow players from other clubs in order to compete. After the tournament, Carl applied to the Foundation to become the captain of the Walking Football team in order to organise a competitive group of players.

Since then, the Foundation has funded Carl to complete his Level 1 FA Coaching qualification and a DBS so that he could run the weekly sessions. Some of those who remember Carl joining Walking Football believe he was destined to take on a leadership role.

“Carl always made an effort to come and say hi,” recalls Sarah Minshall, Inclusion Manager at the Port Vale Foundation. “He travelled in from Market Drayton every week, so you could tell he was committed.”

“He encourages the other players and is a real leader on and off the pitch. By taking on the coaching responsibilities, he’s become a huge asset to the Foundation and to the Walking Football programme here at Port Vale.”

Looking to the future, it’s an exciting time for the Walking Football team. Sarah and Carl are currently working on entering the Staffs FA’s inaugural competitive Walking Football league, due to form in April of next year.

You’ll be able to see them in action at half-time during Vale’s game vs Plymouth Argyle on the 14th September. The exhibition match is being played in memory of Steve Rawlins, a massive Vale fan and well-liked member of the Walking Football team, who tragically passed away in a road traffic incident in August. Please show the team your support!

If you’re interested in taking part in Walking Football at Port Vale, you’re welcome to join us at one of the following sessions:

Tuesdays (Women Only) | Port Vale Academy Sports Hall | 6:00pm-7:00pm
Thursdays | Port Vale Academy Sports Hall | 11:00am-12:00pm
Fridays | Co-op Academy, Westport Road | 7:00pm-8:30pm

To find out more about Walking Football at Port Vale, please contact the Port Vale Foundation on 01782 757066 or email foundation.trust@port-vale.co.uk.