A very successful first-ever walking football festival was staged at the Weir 3G Indoor Centre of the Sportscotland Inverclyde National Sports Centre in Largs.
Largs Walking Football Group, one of our newest member clubs hosted a fun festival and invited Walking Football Scotland participants from Inverkip, Irvine and Ayr United Football Academy. Craig Hamilton, Football Development Officer for KA Leisure and Scottish FA organised the event after discussions with Drew Cochrane who started the Largs walking football group and WFS Chair Gary McLaughlin, who acted as a referee on the day.
There were so many players that a fifth team was formed from the Largs, Inverkip and Ayr players which led to 12 separate games being played on the two artificial grass pitches.
The games were played in the true spirit of walking football and everyone had a fantastic day of activity and sport.
At a lunch and fun awards ceremony individual trophies were presented to 'best players', Gerry Begley (Largs), Angus Bowes (Inverkip), Tony Fenley (Irvine) and Jackie Boyd (Ayr). Double goalscorer of the day was David Baxter of Largs, goal of the day from Brian Pitt of Ayr, 'Runner' of the day, Danny McPake (Largs) and a special scorer award to 82 year old Alan Sutherland of Irvine Portal.
Drew Cochrane, Co-ordinator of the Largs club said: "We're really chuffed that having only started the walking football sessions in August that we attracted 52 players to our mini-fest. The activity has really taken off."
Craig Hamilton, who coaches the North Ayrshire teams, was delighted that the Festive Friendly Festival paid off and the day was so successful he is already planning to do it again next year.
Craig said: “We are delighted to host our first ever walking football festival here in North Ayrshire and would like to thank all of the players for coming along and participating. A big thank you to Inverclyde National Sports Centre and all the staff who looked after us, as well as Walking Football Scotland for their ongoing guidance and support. There were 52 players here today, as well as some supporters cheering on the teams. For some of them it was a reunion with people who they played against many years ago. The physical and mental health benefits of Walking Football are clear for all to see as well as the social side of the game with people interacting with like-minded individuals. A fantastic day, I’m really pleased with how it went and look forward to the next one.”
Gary McLaughlin Chair of Walking Football Scotland said: “A fantastic first for North Ayrshire and huge thanks to Craig and Drew for making this event happen. Also our thanks to John Brown of the Scottish FA and the excellent staff at the National Sports Centre in Largs for looking after us so well.”
Photographs courtesy of John Keachie.