Retired football fanatic closing in on 1,000 goal target

A retired football fanatic who could not sleep in a bed for almost a year after a knee replacement has thanked a charity for getting him fighting fit again.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 11:09 am
Updated Thursday, 26th September 2019, 9:26 am
Walking Footballer Bob Smith, 73, at The Parks Sports Centre in North Shields.

Great-grandad Bob Smith went under the knife in 2016, but struggled with pain and discomfort for ten months before signing up to Age UK North Tyneside’s Walking Football Skills group in North Shields.

The charity runs and promotes a host of activities for older people across North Tyneside, including walk-in-water and walking football sessions at The Parks Sport Centre.

Bob, from Walker, has now set himself the target of scoring 1,000 goals since his return by Christmas.

Bob, 73, has scored 860 goals since lacing up his boots in October 2017, and set himself his 1000-goal target to coincide with National Fitness Day on Wednesday, September 25.

He said: “I have always been a fit guy but when I had my knee replaced it put a stop to everything.

“I just couldn’t get my leg comfortable. I couldn’t sleep in a bed for 10 months – I had to sleep on a couch to get it in a certain position.

“I said to myself ‘I’ve got to get out’. I heard about Walking Football and thought I could have a go at it, and I am so glad I did.

“My confidence shot up – I got a goal in my first game and that was it. I can’t tell you how good it has been for my mental health and spirit.

“I want to thank Age UK North Tyneside for running the programme and this fantastic group. It has been life-changing for me, as well as the people I play with.”

On his mammoth goal tally, former youth and community worker Bob added: “I scored 300 goals in my first 12 months, and now I am up to 860!

“I want to reach 1,000 goals by Christmas, that will show that if I can do it, anyone can do it!”

The charity’s Active Age programme is funded by Sport England and supports people aged 55 and over who may need support and motivation to get physically active again.

Active Age Co-ordinator Caitlin Calvert said: “Groups like this one are so important. They are helping people get active which ultimately can massively benefit their mental and physical health.

“There are some people who are far more capable than they think, but they are afraid to give something a try.

“Our programme is all about building up that confidence so that people can move on to where they need to be, and Bob is a perfect example of Active Age being successful.”

Other ‘active’ groups run by Age UK North Tyneside include Tai Chi, line dancing, seated exercise, gentle circuits and yoga.

To find out more about Active Age, or more about Age UK North Tyneside and the services it offers, visit www.ageuk.org.uk/northtyneside/our-services/active-age-programme or call (0191) 287 7027.

There is a drop-in session at the Beacon Centre, North Shields, from 11am to 3pm on Thursday, September 26, to find out more about Active Age and other Age UK North Tyneside services promoting health and wellbeing.