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Slower pace suits Walking Football players

Since Brittany Walking Football Assoc­iation featured in The Connexion a year ago it has been picked up by French newspapers, who call it a British craze “brought over in expats’ suitcases” that they “wish to develop for the over-50s”. TF1 and BFMTV contacted President Jeff Smith, 68, to speak about the health and social benefits.

Now the club and a newer one in Aulnay, Charente-Maritime, aim to spread it across France, as well as getting more club members – and lure UK clubs to tour.

Mr Smith said: “It is not just an expat thing but something for everyone. We are happy to give advice to anyone, wherever, who wants to kick a ball with friends.”

Aulnay President Ted Sellwood, 67, said they began a year ago backed by local club, Union Sportive Aulnaysienne, and have 20 members but want more. “It is a good way to keep fit and to keep on playing football. There is also the camaraderie.

“I was very fit when I was young and thought that would stand me in good stead for the future. But two years ago I had to have three stents put in my heart and I needed to do some exercise.

“Going for a walk just does not appeal but put a football at my feet, and I don’t want to stop, and I can continue to enjoy the element of competition I have always loved in sport. I feel much healthier, I’ve lost weight and I’ve made friends.”

All Aulnay’s members are men, but they want women to join and also want more clubs across France to allow more games.

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