Men’s Health Week takes place 10th – 16th June 2019. This week, the Trust will be focusing on the link between physical health and mental health, encouraging men to get prostate cancer checks, and use the opportunity to promote some of our new fitness challenges and programmes that you will benefit from.

Tony (69) is sharing his story to help like-minded people, who may be struggling with their confidence, physical or mental health and let them know that their is a community of people waiting to welcome and support them through any hardship they may be going through…

“As a recently retired, suddenly single, man in my mid sixties I felt I was living in a void with very little to look forward to. I then stumbled upon the Derby County Community Trust and three years on I’m so busy and fulfilled, with a life full of friends and colleagues I’ve met through their walking football sessions and other social sessions organised by the Trust.

In 2016 my life was at a low ebb. I had retired from a very fulfilling job in education. I thought my life would involve the normal things retirement brings; family, friends, a couple of holidays and plenty of time in the garden. However, things didn’t work out as I anticipated. A sudden, and to me, unexpected relationship breakdown turned my life upside down and I found myself living alone feeling quite bereft for the retirement I had anticipated.

After a period of what can only be described as lonely depression I realised I needed to do something. I had come across walking football via a TV advert for a bank and, as someone who had played 5 a-side football until the ripe old age of 59, I thought it might be something I would enjoy. I sought out a local walking football session and duly began playing once a week. I was immediately struck by the friendliness of the people in the group and instantly looked forward to my weekly attempt to conjure up a decent pass or score the occasional lucky goal.

With my interest piqued I started to look around for other ways to improve my fitness and, hopefully, in the process lose some weight. I had heard that there was a programme called Active Supporters run by Derby County Community Trust where people seeking to lose weight and improve their fitness could sign on for a year’s free gym membership. Being a lifetime Derby County supporter, I jumped at the opportunity to join anything that was associated with the Rams.

I joined in January 2016 and duly went along to free gym sessions and the occasional activity such as badminton for beginners and spin classes. Not long after I had joined, the Trust decided to start a weekly walking football session, I jumped at the chance to take part. The sessions that were well run and a lot fun soon became very popular and had to move to a bigger venue. At the time there was talk of a walking football league being set up in Derbyshire and a friendly tournament had been organised in the local town of Belper. The Trust decided to put a team together to compete in the tournament and I was lucky enough to be invited to play. It is difficult now to express how exciting it was to pull on that Derby County shirt for the first ever time. We didn’t win the tournament but we enjoyed every minute and, looking back at the photograph above of that first ever DCCT competitive team, I can see that many long lasting friendships were forged on that day.

Since then my involvement with walking football with Derby County Community Trust has gone from strength to strength. I played in their first ever league team, I moved on to their first ever over 65 team which, now in its third season, won their first league title. I have completed two Sports Leadership courses and have represented Derby County around the country and last year in a tournament in Portugal. I also have the privilege of being on the Trust’s Walking Football Committee that meet monthly to oversee the three current league teams and the numerous social sessions. To top it all off I have recently become a volunteer for the Trust at their newly introduced EFL Extra Time Hub, where we bring people together in a comfortable, welcoming environment in the goal of helping people improve their health and wellbeing.

And that is precisely what my involvement with the Derby County Community Trust has done for me. My life is now full of activity, not enough hours in the day, and interest. I am currently involved in the planning of our first ever Awards Night and planning for next season. However, much more importantly, I now have more friends than I have ever had. In addition to the fun and the banter of match days we now meet socially at the EFL Extra Time hub, have meals out and organise many other social events. The support and camaraderie of the friends I have met through walking football has been vitally important in giving me back my self esteem and confidence. I cannot believe how much my life has been turned around since those dark days of 2016.”

Active Supporters new 12-week health programme Can You Kick It? starts Monday 17th June! Click here to find out more.

To learn more about any programmes mentioned in this article please email [email protected]


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