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Havant and Waterlooville Over 50’s Walking Football

H&WFC 50+ Walking Football Team is part of the Hawks in the Community Programme, and is licensed through the Hampshire FA through their “Just Play” initiative.

Havant & Waterlooville Football Club has been fully supportive of the WFT (known as the “Many Shades of Grey” due to the colour of what is left of their hair), and Shaun Gale has been a consistent figure at training sessions and at Tournaments/Festivals, offering professional coaching and advice.

The Many Shades train/practice at South Downs College 3G pitch on Thursday mornings at 11.00am. Players of all abilities, both male and female, are welcome to come along and “just play”.  Sessions cost £3.00 on Thursdays and if a player decides to commit to the Many Shades and register as a player there is a joining/signing-on fee of £10.00.  Registered players are encouraged to buy club training kit – training shirt & shorts and a tracksuit – which encourages the club ethos.  The club has also supported the production of our “fanzine” which has been a good fundraising and publicity tool for us, and which reflects the good natured banter and camaraderie that the Many Shades enjoy.

As of March 2016 the Many Shades had 38 registered players.  We enter a range of Tournaments and Festivals as well as playing one-off friendlies against other WF clubs.  There are also competitions that we have entered which are at the more competitive end of the playing spectrum, and in 2016 we entered the FA People’s Cup, reaching the semi-final stage at Bristol.  In February the Many Shades featured on BBCTV’s South Today being interviewed by Tony Husband, and enjoyed a follow-up appearance on BBC Radio Solent as a result.

We regularly enter the Hampshire Legends Cup, and take up opportunities to play in friendly tournaments at places like Brighton & Hove Albion’s stunning AMEX Training Complex at Lancing.  We hold very successful Invitational Festivals on a quarterly basis, which receive enthusiastic praise from the visiting teams, with teams coming from as far afield as Bristol, the Isle of Wight, and Maidenhead to play in them. We are also keen to contact clubs to try to arrange friendly games against representative WF teams from the Hawks’ opponents on the day of the League matches.  As the game develops and spreads, so we try to give our players more varied opportunities.  Plans are under way to arrange a tournament in Brittany, probably in September 2016, and we were also invited to a tournament in Portugal in May which we were unfortunately unable to commit enough players to.

The Many Shades considers itself a fully inclusive club, and will provide opportunities for players to play at a range of levels in a variety of competition formats.  The FA is actively promoting Men’s Wellbeing, and the Many Shades has two “Wellbeing Champions”.  The sport of Walking Football can help people to get off the sofa and improve their cardio-vascular health, as well as creating a social opportunity to make new friends.  This aspect formed a strong focus of Tony Husband’s report.  On the social side, we are fortunate to have a strong relationship with H&WFC which allows us to access many of the facilities at West Leigh Park.

Although we do not exist to raise money for charity, during the course of 2015 we raised over £600 for a range of charities.  As part of that we were able to play an exhibition game on the pitch at West Leigh Park.  This community spirit and involvement of the players has proven to be a major part of the sense of belonging that exists within the Many Shades.

There are two basic requirements to being a walking footballer: you can’t play before your 50th birthday, and you need to be physically able to kick a ball.  In the Many Shades we like to think that there is a third requirement: a sense of humour!