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John Forrest Walking Football Festival

Bolton Arena's Walking Football programme was initiated in February 2015 on the back of the Barclays Bank advert. Our very first player was Mr John Forrest, whom still attends our weekly sessions. The programme ran for two months with attendees less than 10, with a steady climb over the next 18 months towards numbers moving from a 5-A-Side pitch, to a 6-A-Side, with growth then moving to an 11-A-Side pitch.

Chris Kershaw, an Arena player of six years, states, "Walking Football is a game-changer. It gives people who thought they had retired from the game 20-30 years ago the chance to enjoy again the fun of dressing room banter, the buzz of competition and the sheer joy of being outside on a pitch with a ball at our feet. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and so it should be!"


To celebrate seven successful years and our unique first member, John, Bolton Arena, in partnership with Age UK Bolton, created the John Forrest Walking Football Festival which attracted over 70 players. Gilson Rogers, who is awaiting international trials for Wales added, "What a fantastic day we have had and yet again we have made new friends, made great memories and what a way for the whole tournament to finish with a great goal from the man himself. How heart warming was that and there’s no doubt that Bolton Arena’s programme for the O40s women and O50s men is second to none’.


Danni Toward who captains the O40s Women's side, contributed saying "Great day of football everyone!! Such a lovely atmosphere about the club. I’m grateful for all the opportunities to play football again! Thank you to all the organizers of such a wonderful event’.


Finally, Football Manager Marcus Brown used the opportunity to encourage people to try Walking Football at Bolton Arena. Three morning sessions and three evening sessions are held every week, catering for both men and women, with current player membership numbers standing at 112. Every players' needs are met, whether you are new to the game, a former player or even if players are on a rehab’ programme.


Walking Football offers improvements to resting heart rate as well as hypertension, body strength, mobility and weight loss. It truly can change lives – and thanks to its slower pace and less contact, there's a reduced risk of injury in the process. Equally important are the friendships born out of this magnificent game, the banter and social aspect. We encourage anyone who has a liking for the game to come and observe and book on to one of our sessions.


For further information please email or call 01204 488100.

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