24 October 2020
3d 9h 15m
The Many Shades of Grey is the Havant & Waterlooville FC 50+ Walking Football team, part of Hawks in the Community. It provides three walking football sessions per week for people aged from fifty to over eighty, with an average of about twenty people attending each session. The team also provides playing opportunities in friendly matches against other clubs both locally and more widely around southern England (and even as far away as Brittany), and has a competitive history including reaching the semi-finals of the FA People's Cup in 2016. Not only were we awarded Hampshire FA's Walking Football Team of the Year in 2016, we have now been awarded it again for 2018! As if that wasn't impressive enough, we were also awarded the National League Trust Best Project for Older People in both 2016 and 2018.
With our players having an average age of 65, we need your help so that we can continue to expand our service! Although Hawks in the Community can support two sessions per week, our third session (which is held in the evening to allow working people to attend) is self-funded as the HitC staff are fully timetabled throughout their working week. This means that we are dependent on raising funds in order to make this opportunity available.
Additionally there are increased costs of such things as pitch hire and with Walking Football becoming a more and more established sport in its own right, qualified referees are adding to the cost of putting on events. Naturally, as we all know, our insurance costs rise each year, along with replacement medical supplies. We also have to pay affiliation fees to such bodies as The FA and Havant Borough Sports Association. And all of that is without replacing any playing kit or equipment to help us run the festivals and tournaments.
As well as this, we are beginning to find that the cost of travel to away matches is becoming a little prohibitive for some of our pensioner players. With parent club the Hawks now in the National League, we can expect to be invited to play against Walking Football teams from all over England (and Wrexham!), so travel costs will increase accordingly.
Personally I am lucky enough to be the team's record appearance-maker, with over 200 small-sided matches against other sides under my belt since we started in 2014. It is an incredible feeling to be able to play football again at our ages, something that most, if not all, of us thought was something consigned to our past. The banter, cameraderie, and social interaction is a fantastic source of support for older people, as well as the mobility and health benefits that exercise brings.
The Many Shades of Grey run sessions on Monday and Thursday at Havant & South Downs College (Crookhorn site) from 11.00am - 12.00noon, and at Warblington School on Monday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.00pm. Each session costs £3 per player (£5 per session on Monday evenings), and is open to people of all abilities, genders and ethnicities.
Here are a couple of short videos that you can watch to get a more complete understanding of the team's aims and achievements:
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