Forget the rough and tumble of ‘the beautiful game’ – a more genteel form of football has kicked off in Doncaster.
The Dome has launched weekly sessions of walking football – a way of playing the world’s most popular pastime without injury and too much fuss.
Brought to nationwide attention earlier this year, courtesy of a bank’s television advert, the game is rapidly gaining in popularity.
There is no running allowed, no tackling and the ball is not allowed above head height.
All of which go into making it an ideal way of helping keep fit among the older, less mobile population and those suffering from social isolation.
Aimed at the over-50s, The Dome’s Primetimers sessions have only just kicked off – and are already scoring success.
Steve Parkin, aged 54, is among the growing band of devotees lining up for the games, which take part as part of a wider keep-fit session, every Monday.
He says: “It keeps everyone fit and happy. Not only is it a chance for people to have a game of football, but to socialise and meet others too.”
The sessions are under the watchful eye of former England and Doncaster Belles ace Jan Milner, 59, whose own career in the game came to an end in 2003 after a knee replacement operation.
She said: “Football is the most wonderful game in the world and I have been involved in it for a long, long time.
“It brings people together and you can feel the energy and buzz in the room.
“It is all about creating friendships as well as sharing memories and creating new ones.
“Football is in my blood and it’s great to get people out enjoying it again when some of them haven’t kicked a football in more than 30 years.”
The sessions, organised by Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust in conjunction with charities Sue Ryder Care and Age UK, are open to women too .
The classes also include a ‘Football Reminisce’ group, where people can swap and share memories of games watched and played, with archive footage of some of the game’s golden greats.
Jon Whiteley, DCLT head of community development, said: “We’re sure walking football will be another popular addition.”
The Primetimers sessions take place every Monday, from 10am to 2pm, with games getting under way at 11.30pm
See www.the-dome.co.uk for more details.