Let me take you on a journey from the peaceful village setting that is Welton near Lincoln to the gang-controlled township of Manenberg in South Africa.

It was here that a group of friends on holiday in the area played a game of walking football against the Grace Community soccer team in what could well have been the first ever international fixture of this mode of the ‘beautiful game’.

The match was played according to the UK FA rules in front of an exuberant crowd of local residents and nearby workers in an area where a policeman had been shot that day.

The 5-2 victory to the visitors was secondary to the main theme of the game as Dawn Ehrenheich, the team manager of the Manenburg side explained.

“The game meant privilege, honour, recognition and respect for the players who are mostly retired and therefore no longer required to play a part in the economy.

“Opportunities are perceived in our country to be for the youth of the nation.

“The game of walking football inspired and instilled a renewed sense of belonging to society and the players have expressed new confidence in themselves.

“They have been inspired to bring out what’s been inside of them to the fore again and to inspire other like-minded ex soccer veterans who feel like outcast sportsmen.

“I thank you for allowing our guys to rediscover themselves again.”

The Lincoln outfit donated shirts to the Manenburg players and more are on the the way from Welton.

This surely is what sport is all about. Bringing people together and giving participants the feeling of being valued.

Bas Blackbourn

Walking Football correspondent for SportsLinc.


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