A letter of appreciation from Bill Lancashire, who recently nominated our group for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, with support from David Wenham and Bernard Roddy….sent as an ‘open letter’ Bill is happy for it to be reproduced here.
“It doesn’t just happen by itself!
It’s more than likely (and I’m as guilty as anyone) that every time you turn up at King Street, either on a Tuesday or a Thursday; you pay your subs, trot out onto the pitch, do a few stretches or enjoy a pre-game kick about, take part in the game … then head off back home.
But just consider for a moment all that’s gone into organising that session so that you can enjoy your walking football.
When you arrive at King Street the benches will be out, the footballs will be there (all correctly inflated) the goalkeepers’ gloves will be available, freshly laundered bibs will be provided, a first aid kit is in place, the clock and notice board are in position, the pitch, or pitches, will be marked out, the warm up is arranged, teams are chosen and the games get underway under the control of qualified referees.
And those are just the things you can see.
What about all the ‘invisible’ activities that go into making our weekly sessions so enjoyable?
The pitch has to be booked and paid for.
The subs-money has to accounted and paid into the bank.
Every player has to be insured.
Brewing facilities are provided in the changing rooms for after the game.
Friendly games and festivals are regularly arranged.
Our various league teams have to be registered into competitions.
External funding and awards are regularly applied for.
Trophies need to be purchased.
Our excellent website is updated on a daily basis.
Our YouTube videos are regularly uploaded.
Our photographic archives are constantly updated.
… and I’m sure I could go on and on …
All this unseen effort is down to our hard-working volunteer committee and in particular to Alan Richards – the man who is the driving force and the person most responsible for ensuring that all of us can keep on enjoying our weekly walking football.
They are the people who make it happen every week, so a few occasional ‘Thank Yous’ to all those people involved would, I’m sure, be greatly appreciated. “
excerpts from letters from supportive letters below….
“A Walk on the Tameside”, the motto makes me smile and the smile becomes a grin as I’m greeted by name. It is Tuesday morning and it is walking football with my new-found friends who are already stretching, warming up, even taking pot-shots into an empty goal.
“You’ll enjoy it here and don’t worry, they’ll look after you,” said Stewart to my enquiry about joining, as he stood taking his turn as ’keeper.
How true. They let me join (despite my age) and minutes into my first game I fell: there was instant silence and the game was stopped. I wasn’t hurt and grinned as I was helped to my feet. “He’s only after a penalty,” someone called and the game resumed. They do care, but humour is never far away; one other aspect of Tameside Striders Walking Football.
The one man working is Alan; he’s there from the start, collecting the small match fee and recording names. I gradually became aware that others were working as a committee organising other match days and other competitions; even A Festival of Football. There is one man who shall remain nameless, but his initials are David XXXX, who in one morning can referee, take his turn in goal , play out, and be booked for running (you may NOT run in walking football!) and complain louder than any other at the referee’s decision. Players come even when unfit – just to watch, comment and “be part”.
The Committee also arrange festivals against teams from “out of town” with post-match refreshments, to share our love and enjoyment of ‘the beautiful game’ with other groups. I even enjoy my stints in goal where, taking a rest, I can watch the dreams and “near-remembered skills of other days” displayed by the ‘lads’.
I’ve always enjoyed my football and Tameside Striders’ Tuesdays have enabled me to enjoy it again; players come even when unfit – just to watch, comment and “be part”. It is this camaraderie, and yes, this friendship among the players, that makes the whole ever-growing project worthy, and worthy of a Queen’s Reward for Volunteering.
When the time came to thank the committee for all the work done, the response was very enthusiastic but impersonal, so I thought I would thank you all personally.
All of the players that I have spoken to have said that playing walking football has changed their lives. I know of two players who were literally and figuratively ‘couch potatoes’. One of them drank eight pints a night and looked like a potato! They look nothing like that now and of course they feel much better about themselves.
The membership has grown from one group of about 12 to 3 groups of about 16 players each. Alan has also organised inter regional competitions that meet monthly.
As for me, I bless the day a neighbour introduced me to it. I never played football since school days and even then we mainly played rugby league. Like many others I feel that not only has my physical condition improved but I think my mental and emotional state has too. And as a diabetic on 11 pills a day I really appreciate this.
So, to all those who help out, you who referee and of course the enthusiastic and hard working Alan (who is a terrific asset) …… I give my heart felt (literally!) gratitude and well wishes.”
“In my opinion, Walking Football is the best and biggest innovation for the health and wellbeing of older men and women for a very long time. I don’t know how it all started but it was probably a bottom up initiative, a group of old blokes getting together for a kick around.
During the time The committee, who are all volunteers, ensure that every session is efficiently run and they have also organised inter-regional competitions that compete on a monthly basis. They have raised extra funds to provide good quality footballs, player vests and pitch markers and generally ensure that the club is maintained on an efficient and sustainable basis.
All the groups are run extremely well, with players who have undertaken referee training rotating the task of refereeing. I think I speak for everyone when I say we are all very grateful to the committee as well as all the other volunteers who facilitate these wonderful days.
As for myself, I bless the day a neighbour introduced me to it. I hadn’t played football since my school days and even then we mainly played rugby league. Like many others I feel that not only has my physical condition improved but I know that my mental and emotional state has too. And as a diabetic on 11 pills a day I really appreciate this and I recognise it would not be possible without the constant hard work that the unpaid volunteer committee & all the other volunteers put in.”