AB4D interviewed Clacton member about her involvement in local grassroots football.
AB4D: What is your involvement in local football?
Jenny: I am founder, secretary and also a coach of Clacton Rhinos Walking Football Club. We train twice a week and play matches in the Essex Walking Football League once a month.
AB4D: What are the differences between Walking Football and the regular game?
Jenny: Walking Football is for people aged 50+ (although we have some social members that are younger), there is no running, contact, heading or throw-ins. The format is 6v6.
AB4D: How did you go about starting the team? Do you have any qualifications?
Jenny: I am currently undertaking my Level 2 qualification in Coaching Football. Someone from Essex Football Association approached me in 2016 asking if I would be interested in starting a Walking Football team, after looking into the idea I decided to go for it.
AB4D: How many players do you have?
Jenny: We have about 20 members (men and women) signed up and regularly get 12-15 players at training.
AB4D: What are the benefits?
Jenny: I have seen a real improvement in the footballing ability of the members of the team. They have been able to develop their skills in training and to put them into practice in matches. Playing Walking Football has also benefited their physical health, as they get to exercise regularly. It has also been great for their mental health because they get out and about and socialise with other people. The sessions are fun and light-hearted, everybody has a good time.
AB4D: How have the lockdowns affected the team?
Jenny: The lockdowns have been really hard for myself and the whole team. As I said before, this team has improved the mental health of many of the players, and not being able to meet up regularly has put that at risk. I have made sure to stay in contact with as many of the players as possible through phone calls and videos calls. I was worried during the first lockdown because people have health conditions, and being off for so long mean they might not come back but they did.
AB4D: What are your hopes for the future of the team?
Jenny: Next season, we hope to have an over 60s team and in the next few seasons we would love to have a women's team. I would also love to run some sports sessions in partnership with SUMMIT as we all know the benefits of sport in regards to mental health.
AB4D: Which football team do you support and who is your favourite player?
Jenny: I'm a big Man Utd fan and my favourite player is David Beckham!
Everyone at AB4D and Summit wants to say a big 'well done' to Jenny for the amazing work she has done on this project. We look forward to watching it grow!