A North Tyneside club has bagged a top prize at this year’s 2016 FA Mars Just Play Awards, which were held at the Houses of Parliament.
Blue Flames Walking Football Club, based at Whitley Park in Benton, received the Legacy Award for the work it has done to grow adult football participation and the positive contribution this had in the community.
Is was presented to a selection of the club’s committee members by Fiona Mactaggart, MP, the FA’s director of participation and development Kelly Simmons, and the FA’s participation manager for recreational football Andy Dyke.
With support from agencies such as Age UK North Tyneside and the North Tyneside Social Prescribing Service, Blue Flames’ walking football sessions have continually attracted new members since launching in May 2014.
After more than 80 people took part in the session during the first year, Northumberland FA backed the development of a club committee, bank account, and supported 16 members through their FA First Aid Award.
The club is now self-sufficient and provides two sessions each week for more than 50 members.
It has run FA affiliated walking football competitions and has also supported the development of groups in surrounding areas by attending the openings of a number newly formed sessions.
Northumberland FA’s recreational and adult football development officer, David Jones, who helped to establish the sessions, said: “Blue Flames’ willingness to support the development of walking football as a whole is only added to by the positive impact the club has had on its own individual members.
“Participants have come to the club alone, but leave their first session as a member of an ever growing team that supports each other on and off the pitch.”
As well as the playing opportunities Blue Flames has already developed, the club has plans to expand further.
In conjunction with Metro Radio, Northumberland FA, Seaton Carew Walking Football Club and Walking Football United, it plans to launch the first national Walking Football Day on Sunday, September 4.
The aim will be to encourage thousands of players to play a game of walking football on the same day – while also raising money for the charity Cash for Kids.
For anyone who would like to play walking football, there are now a number of sessions running throughout Northumberland. For details of these, visit www.NorthumberlandFA.com