Reverend Liam talks walking football
The Nottingham Forest walking football programme, a slow-paced version of the beautiful game, is a great way for over 50s to get active, make friends and improve their physical and mental wellbeing, regardless of football ability.
Walking football gives participants the opportunity to play and train with like-minded individuals, play competitively in organised tournaments, or simply socialise and have fun while reconnecting with the game they love.
One participant in particular who has been attending since we started running the programme is Reverend Liam O’Boyle who takes time out of his busy schedule as a Vicar to join in and get back into a game he once loved to play.
We caught up with Liam during a session down at The Forest Sports Zone to see how walking football has helped him and his role as a Vicar in the community.
Liam said, “To be honest at the age of 57, I never thought I’d play football again, when I was in my early 20’s I got a serious illness, and I was in and out of hospital and it left me without much mobility at all so I couldn’t walk for the first 10 years after, so I had really intensive physio.”
Liam continued, “I still have to have physio now and it was them that suggested I joined, I wasn’t sure at first as I didn’t know anyone, but when I came down it was just fantastic. The welcome you get is great!”
He went on to talk about his own reasons for enjoying the sessions saying, “It’s got me back into football, something I enjoy and it’s the camaraderie and banter really which keeps me coming back.”
“For me as a Vicar it’s appropriate as I think it was Brian Clough that said the phrase “If God had wanted us to play football in the sky, he’d have put grass up there.”
Liam’s job as a Vicar takes up 6 days of his week, not only based at his church but also out and about in the community, helping projects with refugees, homeless people, and health & wellbeing.
“We do a lot of different things. We work with over 300 churches. I’m part of the team that encourages them to engage and to join in with the stuff that’s going on. So, I sometimes get to work with football Trusts like Nottingham Forest Community Trust and football just brings people together in a way that nothing else can.”
He continued, “It’s great to see all ages enjoying it around the community, whether that be the youngsters only just starting, to our age still trying and staying fit. All of us wearing our Nottingham Forest shirts of course!”
The programme coordinator Elvis is a huge motivator to all participants that join in. Liam said, “Elvis’s phrase ‘everyone’s a winner’ really sticks with me because I just pinch myself that I’m still able to kick a ball. You don’t stop playing football if you love the game.”
“We take the ‘mick’ a bit, but his phrase is true, we are; all abilities, all ages getting together and getting fit while having fun. It’s brilliant for your wellbeing, your mental health and of course your physical health.”
With walking football, it really doesn’t matter whether you have great ability or no ability, it’s something to really join to keep fit while also having fun!
If you would like to hear more about the Nottingham Forest walking football programme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org