Street Soccer are continuing to offer walking football sessions in Edinburgh to support mental health throughout winter.
After relaunching in June, sessions have now switched from Leith Links to Powerleague Portobello with players benefitting from the weekly Monday morning session.
Edinburgh programme coordinator Chris Binnie spoke of the significance of re-introducing the session once COVID restrictions allowed.
“Before COVID, we had a walking football session at the Kirkgate, playing indoors. We thought it would be a great opportunity for men in the area to get together and play football. Some of our players are not comfortable playing football at a higher intensity, so it’s a great chance for them to come and play for free, at a reduced tempo. It’s a nice relaxing environment and good to watch, so we thought now was a great chance to get it going again and engage with the local community.”
Players have the opportunity to access the session every week in Portobello, with the slower intensity allowing most to have a bit of a chat and a laugh throughout.
“Due to the pandemic, there is maybe less opportunity for these guys to find pitch time in the evening – facilities are becoming less accessible and more expensive” said Chris.
Stuart, who has been a regular at Street Soccer sessions for almost four years, spoke of the impact that these particular sessions have on his mental health.
“I’ve recently returned to playing with Street Soccer after a short break due to struggling with my mental health. Walking football has been great for me since I’ve started playing again, I come to two sessions on a Wednesday and this is a really good way to start my day.
The game is obviously difficult to adapt to at first but the intensity is really relaxed, which allows us to have a bit of a laugh and a chat with one another. I really benefit from being part of this group.”
Players such as Stuart find that joining the walking football session is a good way to build their confidence ahead of participating in larger groups.
“I love football but this session is a bit less chaotic, we don’t need to worry about running or maybe the potential to get injured. Men and women have mixed together here too, and the welcoming environment is what makes people come back.”
Stuart, who volunteers for a mental health charity in his own time, believes that targeted sessions, such as walking football, have the potential to make a real difference in the capital city.
“I’ve had my own battles from a very early age and I think having a session like this which is specific to helping people with that part of their life is really empowering.
I tell everyone about Street Soccer, I love being part of this community and want the best for everyone involved. Coming to this session first thing on a Monday is a good way to see what it’s all about, and a lot of guys like me will join other sessions across the week too.”
If you would like to be part of the weekly walking football session in Edinburgh, then feel free to come along every Monday morning at 11am at Powerleague Portobello. If you would like to discuss more information then please contact Robbie Wood on 07480979919 or [email protected]