Walking Footballers meet three times a week at Bradley Football Development Centre. Not only is it a great way to stay fit and healthy and enjoy a slower pace of the game, but it also offers a place for men to come together and support one another, whatever challenge they may be facing off the pitch.
Grimsby man Dave Arnold (57) has been playing walking football since 2016. He was diagnosed with a type of spine and pelvis cancer called Chondrosarcoma in March 2022.
Dave said: “The support I’ve had from the lads throughout this has been unbelievable. They’ve made me realise that I’m not going through it alone.”
When Dave began experiencing lower back and hip pain, initially he thought it was arthritis. After symptoms worsened however, he was sent for a CT scan, which revealed a growth at the base of his spine.
“I was in shock, for a few days I did nothing but cry my eyes out. I didn’t know where to put myself. I was thinking I’m only 56, why me?” Dave added.
By sharing his story, he wants to encourage other men who may be reluctant to go to their GP to get checked out if they have concerns.
My advice for anyone with persistent symptoms would be to go and get it checked out. Initially, I took paracetamol for the pain, but it just got worse. The specialist said to me that I was lucky I was referred when I was.
Dave started radiotherapy at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester in May 2022. Following treatment, he’s having ongoing check-ups and continues to play walking football, which keeps him active and allows him to catch up with friends in the café afterwards.
Walking football is still a relatively new sport, but it is growing at a rapid rate. There are over 140,000 players in England (Sport England figures, 2021) and it’s played in over 60 countries (FIWFA 2022).
Lincs Inspire run a weekly session every Friday at 11am, alongside weekly sessions led by Grimsby Ancient Mariners (GAM) and Corinthians.
The Walking Football Association (WFA) also run a ‘Kicking Cancer’ squad, highlighting the value that gentle forms of activity can provide for people who are undergoing or have undergone cancer treatment. Benefits also include comfort and reassurance of sharing experiences informally with fellow cancer patients, support and companionship, and improved physical health.