Taking part in the inaugural festival were teams from Withernsea, Hornsea, Soccer Kings Hull, Cottingham Rangers and East Hull Community Transport with many of the participants playing competitive fixtures against each other for the very first time. The aim of the festival was to celebrate the success of the FA Mars Just Play programme in the East Riding and introduce the various turn up and play sessions to competitive fixtures for the first time.
To make sure the festival was unique to the East Riding the decision was made to not record the scores from the games or offer a knock out stage and final. This meant the festival took a round robin format with all teams in attendance playing each other. The relaxed nature of the proceedings ensured that players of all abilities, ages and fitness levels could compete against each other without the pressure of having to win games.
Participant, Pete Grayson said "The format meant that we could focus on playing and enjoying the games rather than being worried about losing or not scoring goals. It also meant the games were a lot more relaxed and there was no aggression shown from any of the other teams".
After launching the first FA Mars Just Play kick about in Beverley nearly two years ago the programme has now gone from strength to strength with seven walking football sessions currently operating throughout the county. The plan is to now expand the programme to other areas of the county and introduce more regular festivals and tournaments.
Just Play Development Officer, Chris Johnson said "Yesterdays festival highlights the success we have had recently in encouraging more people to start playing the beautiful game again. When we started the first walking football session we never imagined that it would grow so quickly and engage as many people as it has done so quickly. With plans afoot to continue this rapid growth it is certainly an exciting time to be involved with walking football in the county".
East Riding FA would like to send a big thank you to Soccer Kings for hosting this event at their fantastic facility and also extend a massive thanks to all the venues who currently host turn up and play Walking Football sessions in the region. A special mention must also go to referee Allan Cope who helped ensure that the festival ran smoothly and ensured that respect and fair play was enforced during each match.
If you would like more information on where you can play walking football then please click here.