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Community

COMMUNITY: Coach Dennis and the SBitC Walking Football Story

6 December 2023

Community

COMMUNITY: Coach Dennis and the SBitC Walking Football Story

6 December 2023

On the December 4th 2014 at St. Finbarrs in Holbrooks, Sky Blues in the Community's Walking Football as we know it commenced.

9 years ago, this week, several of our participants today started a new chapter in their physical and mental health. The majority of them, life-long Coventry City fans, came together to play the game they all know and love.

Of course, a version of the game - now all over the age of 50 with rules in place for their safety, such as no heading, no contact of any form, and most of all no running.

Many, even today, struggle with the idea of keeping their heels on the floor, not going in for a tackle or diving header. Matches are played in great spirit and have grown over the years. These are small-sided games of 7 or 8 aside, however lately the participants have craved full 11 aside matches which have been brilliant.

Just recently they had the first annual CV Derby between participants from the Coventry Sphinx session versus Rugby Boroughs finest. Two very tightly contested matches which will be settled with a 3rd leg on 20th December 2023.

In August we also honoured Coventry City legend Dave Bennett, with the inaugural Dave Bennett Community Cup. This consisted of an 8-aside tournament with four sides; from Leicester City Community, x2 from Coventry Sphinx, x1 representing Rugby Borough and our beloved Macmillian Cancer Support Group. The day was a huge success, all played in great spirit, creating everlasting memories for all involved. Fans of Dave Bennett in particular were delighted to be rubbing shoulders with him on the day, taking photos and having those unforgettable conversations and a good laugh.

This is why the project is so widely regarded as ‘one of the best’ Sky Blues in the Community have on offer. As most are City fans too, it's a great social environment for all.

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Dennis Zuill, SBitC coach and Walking Football Lead said "It's more than football it's a way of life!".

He continues “Even when players are unfit, they still come along for refreshments and a great morning amongst friends. They often help to choose our ‘Player of the week’, assist in VAR and just encourage their friends to play to the best of their abilities.”

“During lockdown was when I myself began my journey with this lovely walking football family, and right away in conversation, you could hear just how much Walking Football means to them!

"Although it keeps your body active, it does a world of good for your mental health. Many have their own stories; from recovering cancer patients, to the loss of loved ones or living with Dementia, among other health and mental issues.”

"These few hours together bring them all a sense of value in life and belonging to something special.”

Sky Blues in the Community offer a special session for participants living with and beyond Cancer. Sponsored by Macmillian Cancer Support, this session is on a referral basis from medical providers in our community. It's extremely rewarding to see how much these players gain strength, health and a wealth of knowledge from each other. We also have yearly prostate screenings which we organise alongside Macmillian.

If you're over 50 and interested in a great social environment which keeps the mind, body and soul active then come along to any of our 3 locations and kick start a great new journey in your life.

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Our Walking Football sessions are open to both male and females, however, we are in the process of looking to start female-only sessions.

Sessions are as follows:

  • Monday: 11am - 12 noon at Coventry Sphinx
  • Wednesday: 10:30am - 1130am at Rugby Borough
  • Thursday: 10:30am - 1130am at Coventry Sphinx
  • Friday: 11am - 12 noon at Alan Higgs Centre

Sessions are £5, which includes 1 hour of football and refreshments.

We are also holding a Christmas Raffle this month to help raise funding for kits, a pitch higher, footballs and other key supplies. If you would be interested in contributing towards our group via a sponsorship package, this would also be greatly appreciated.

Dennis Zuill ended with: “I too have gained so much from working with these participants. I must mention Dave Bennett and Ron Bannister without whom this project wouldn’t be as successful as it is today, without all the tremendous work they both do in the background! From a fan of Dave's to now a friend, Walking Football has given my life gratification."

“It's more than football it's a way of life"

If you would like any further information on any of the above, please contact:

Dennis.zuill@sbitc.org.uk or alternatively you can call our offices on 02476 786 349.


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