Walking football players from across the Borders and neighbouring regions are preparing for the inaugural Borders Walking Football Festival.
The celebration of the emerging sport is due to take place at the Netherdale 3G Arena in Galashiels on Sunday, April 24.
Teams from Peebles, Kelso, Galashiels and Newcastleton will face sides from Midlothian, Annan and even as far afield as Newcastle in what promises to be a highly competitive tournament at the home of Gala Fairydean Rovers FC.
The sport has found its popularity going from strength to strength after the first few matches were played on the outdoor playing fields in Peebles in early 2014.
Games now take place on a weekly basis across the Borders with increasing numbers of people coming along to enjoy the physical and social benefits that can be gained from taking part.
Walking football follows the same rules as a normal game apart from the fact that players are not allowed to run, only walk.
This allows for different skills to be utilised with abilities like agility, precision passing and ball control all helpful. It is an ideal sport for people looking to improve their fitness and enjoy a game at a pace they find more suited to their needs.
The festival is a chance for the local teams to test their abilities against players from outwith the area and with the competition due to take place on the 3G pitch at Netherdale, team spirits are riding high as the big day approaches.
Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities at Scottish Borders Council (SBC), said: “Walking football is becoming increasingly popular for a number of very good reasons.
“It gives people the chance to enjoy a competitive team sport without the high impact or strenuous level of activity that standard football requires and it is also a very sociable and fun way to improve your health and wellbeing. I’m sure this first festival will be an exciting and highly entertaining event with each team ‘In it to win it’ and I hope lots of people will take the chance to go along and cheer them on.”
Galashiels team member, John Hislop added: “Walking football is a great way to keep fit, lose weight and reduce blood pressure, and the fact that it’s played at a slower pace reduces the risk of injury either from tackles or pressure on the joints. The sport has taken off throughout the country and our sessions at Langlee continue to attract new members.
“I would urge anyone looking for a hobby to give it a try, even if you haven’t played for years. The games can get quite competitive but it’s all good fun and anyone who wants to give it a try should turn up at one of our sessions where they will be made welcome.
“The tournament at Netherdale will hopefully be the first of many and teams are coming from throughout Scotland and the north of England to take part. It’s going to be a well fought competition and may the best team win, although obviously we’ll be doing our best to be the ones holding that trophy at the end of the day.”
For more information, contact SBC’s Community Capacity Building team on 01835 824000 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.