An MP - and qualified referee - has given his support to Earls Barton’s walking football scheme as part of a bid to get over 50s into sport.
Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris, stopped by Earls Barton Bowls and Tennis Club on Friday, September 16, to get a first-hand taste of the FA Mars Just Play Initiative, which has been running in the village since 2011.
The countrywide programme encourages adults to take part in casual walking football sessions and the scheme in Earls Barton now attracts 15 players every week.
Mr Heaton-Harris, who is encouraging people to join the scheme in Earls Barton, said: “As a qualified referee since the age of 12, I have been involved in sport from a very young age.
“I know and have seen the wide-ranging benefits that football and sport-in-general can have and I regularly talk to my colleagues in Westminster, conveying my passion and belief in the power of sport.
“It has been a real pleasure to come along to Earls Barton, visit the Just Play Centre in my constituency, and see one of their training sessions.”
The programme which was set up to encourage adults to get involved in casual football sessions kicked off in 2011 and now sees 15 players get together in Earls Barton every week.
Geoff Cleaver, co-ordinator of Earls Barton Walking Football Club, said: “Our Just Play session is all about getting members of the local community to have a kickabout in a fun and casual environment.
“All the players who attend feel the benefits of the session, both on a physical and social level, and it’s great that we’re now getting players from further afield coming to our session to take part.”
The walking football team will soon benefit from state-of-the-art facilities to play on next year as local team, Earls Barton Football Club is set for a major redevelopment.
Since FA Mars Just Play launched the initiative in 2011, the programme has provided 1.4 million opportunities for adults to take part in a kick-about at a time and location that suits them.