“I feel happier; I feel like I belong somewhere” – Walking Footballer praises impact of Project on his wellbeing | World Health Day

64-Year-Old Chris Priest has loved sport throughout his life, travelling up and down the country on a weekly basis to watch Mansfield Town, and during his youth playing regularly on a social basis with his friends and family, however after developing a problem with his feet and mobility, was forced to step away from playing and became socially isolated as a result.

In late 2018, Chris discovered our Walking Football programme and after attending a few sessions, found the confidence to seek medical advice on how to manage the pain caused by mobility and has since flourished in confidence, meeting new friends and becoming far more socially active, all thanks to Walking Football. 

“I feel happier, I feel like I belong somewhere and the whole thing is just fantastic” Chris said. “When I was told I couldn’t play sport anymore, I found it really difficult to take because I’m really passionate about sport and I found it a really great way to be social and make friends.

“Stepping away from it lost me a lot of confidence, I’ve always been a social person from a young age but that really hit me and for a long time, I stopped going to other social activities and beat myself up a lot over it.

“I was really nervous about going along to the sessions but it was the best thing I’ve done for years, I’ve made lots of new friends and found the confidence to not only re-start attending other social activities, but also to speak openly and honestly about the things troubling me mentally and physically – I feel like I’m in a far better place now”

Since attending Football in the Community’s Walking Football sessions, Chris has become a regular face and has really grown in confidence, and believes the social aspect has enabled him to seek medical advice.

“Like many men my age I hate going to the doctors, asking for advice and speaking out, but the social aspect of walking football, how we all genuinely care for and support each other gave me the confidence to make a doctor’s appointment and get help in managing the pain walking and exercise was inflicting on me.

“Through the right medication I can now manage it and have been able to do things I never thought possible, like playing on the One Call Stadium Pitch and at St Georges Park in the summer in a national tournament – I can’t thank Walking Football enough and urge anyone to give it a go – it goes far beyond kicking a ball”

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