FOOTIE FANS: John Galletly (middle grey top) and Paul Connellan (holding the ball) with some of the crew.
FOOTIE FANS: John Galletly (middle grey top) and Paul Connellan (holding the ball) with some of the crew.

Take a walk back in time to enjoy football

IN THE past being over 50 often meant the end of playing team sports but two big fans of the World Game are hoping to change all that.

Ballina men Paul Conellan and John Galletly have started a Walking Football team in their home town and are hoping to not only attract more players to their competition but also inspire others on the Northern Rivers to start their own.

Paul explained the concept behind the sport as "a modified non-contact version of soccer designed for the over 50s".

"It is a great way of maintaining an active lifestyle in a fun and sociable way.

"We are hoping to attract men, women, former players or complete novices. Our current cohort are all over 50 but under 50s are more than welcome too."

Paul said the sport was big in the UK where there were more than 800 clubs.

It had also taken off in Brisbane but there had not been any competitions on the North Coast until he and John started their new venture a few weeks ago.

Both long-time players, Paul playing well into his 40s before taking up masters for a few years, the duo had both contacted Football Far North Coast, the local governing body separately inquiring about a local competition.

After being introduced to each other and discovering they both lived in Ballina, they decided to start their own competition. So, with the help of the local Ballina club, with which they have become affiliated, they have started a weekly game.

Paul said so far, they had eight or nine players and had received interest from several others, including several women. He said, the game, played on a modified pitch with modified rules that included an exclusion zone around the goalie and absolutely no running (though fast walking is allowed), allowed players to show some skills and enjoy the physical fitness and camaraderie of a team sport without risking injury.

They are starting small, but both men are hoping it will catch on, not just in Ballina but across the Far North Coast with a view to games (and barbecues) with players from other areas.

"We meet Thursday evenings 6-7pm each week at Saunders Oval, Ballina (near the corner of Kerr and Swift Streets)," Paul said.

To join in the fun or to get advice on starting a similar competition:

Phone Paul on 0412692162

or John's email

john_galletly57@hotmail.

com