By Stuart Russell
The team won the Hampshire FA’s Walking Football Team of the Year 2018 Award. The citation reads: The Havant & Waterlooville 50+ Walking Football Team… has sought to provide an inclusive and enjoyable experience for all as well as for guest teams who are welcome to the club’s festivals. This year, the club have scheduled seven festivals, some festivals for the 50+ and some for the 60+ age groups to accommodate and cater to all. The club has… organised a number of charitable events as well as attended a number of charitable events to provide the players with as many possible playing opportunities. The club places a strong emphasis on everyone having a fun and enjoyable experience with less emphasis placed on winning.
Additionally the team won the National League Trust Best Project for Older People 2018 Award for the continued development of the project. The application required evidence from participants of the benefits of membership of the team, as well as statistical evidence of development and participation. It was essentially about inclusion and getting more and more old folk off the sofa and onto the football pitch.
The Many Shades of Grey have won “the double” of these two Awards before, in 2016.
Although winning matches isn’t top of the team’s priorities, 2018 has been successful on the pitch as well, winning a number of tournaments and festivals through the year. This included winning at Fratton Park when the two Many Shades squads entered into the event were split into three to help out the organisers after a team dropped out at short notice. Players who have participated in these events in 2018 range in age from 51 to 80.
The team has introduced a Monday evening session to encourage working age players to participate, and self-funded that through a range of fundraising efforts. This “youth development” helped lead to the team being crowned Solent League Champions 2018.