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York Sport Village hosts Back to Boots initiative
12:30pm Saturday 5th October 2013 in Sport
IN a week when benefits of physical exercise are said to aid victims of strokes, an invitation from City of York Council to get the old ticker pumping was one to accept.
So with eight other footballers of, let’s say, veteran age, the Kelly heart was put to the test.
York Sport Village was the superbly-appointed venue for a taster session for the City Masters – Back to Boots initiative, staged and organised by a three-way partnership of the council, York City’s Football in the Community programme and Benenden Healthcare, sponsors of the club.
Community coach Simon Wood oversaw the session which included warm-up drills and a much-valued warm-down routine either side of what each and everyone of the nine had truly braved the night for – the chance to play football.
Alongside that opportunity – rare for many once organised league play disappears over the sporting horizon – is a feeling of freedom.
It’s the liberty to play unhindered by age, unfettered by the betrayal that others believe you to be too old to still tackle, head, shoot and challenge, undaunted too by the notion sniffily expressed by peers that surely your tootsies should be clad in slippers rather than multi-studded trainers.
“Come on. Isn’t it time you jacked it all in at your age?” is a sniping reaction all of us have encountered when voicing the desire to still keep playing. The most painful part of that phrase is the last three words – “at your age”.
Well, at the end of the taster session there was not one among the nine who would yield to that ageist sneer.
While with nine the sides were uneven, we were all a match for each other in 45 full-on minutes.
The zip-fast, but true 3G surface, and the all-enveloping pen in which we played meant there was virtually no stoppage to the ebb and flow of the game.
Hearts did not just tick over, they tocked and rocked. Pulses did not simply race, they lasered. And, for me at least, lungs did occasionally sear in the quest for breath.
But amid the warm-down confessional of creaking limbs and squeaking joints, there was a palpable sense of achievement, a tangible feeling that competitive football can still be enjoyed even if you’re in your roaring forties or, in my case, as old as the number of varieties once extolled by a manufacturer of the world’s most famous brand of baked beans.
Said coach Wood: “It was a great session and it’s such a buzz to see older players still giving their all and still wanting to express themselves.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what standard you play at, everyone enjoys scoring goals, tackling, assisting. And that’s beside the obvious health benefits.”
Said Catriona Sudlow, the Council’s Older Peoples Activity Officer: “Football is one of those sports where players often feel there’s nowhere to go once they have finished playing for a team.
“But there is a pathway with this programme to keep on playing and that’s got to be good.”
As one of the nine, Paul Robinson, said: “That was just so enjoyable. Well played.”
Well played indeed, sirs.
THE Back to Boots course will start weekly sessions from next Wednesday, October 9, for eight weeks from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.
The cost is £30 for the full eight weeks (averaging £2.75 per session).
For further information, or to find out how to book, phone Catriona Sudlow on 01904 553377 or email email@example.com
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