A slow- paced version of the beautiful game is helping members of Parkinson’s UK North Tyneside branch to lead a more active lifestyle.

Thanks to a £387 grant from the council’s Active North Tyneside Community Fund, the group of over 60s are enjoying playing Walking Football which has many health benefits.

The group has been able to buy coloured tops, a football and a whistle for its 14 -strong team and has booked sessions at Marden Bridge Sports Centre.

Gerry Daniel, Treasurer said: “The fund has given us a reason to continue with Walking Football otherwise it may have been a one-off event. As more of our members try it out they will see why those who have participated so far enthuse about it so much. It has also enabled us to purchase two sets of coloured T-shirts for the two teams which gives us a stronger identity and purpose.

“As for the health benefits there is a noticeable change for those who walk with difficulty. The more purposeful walking stride used in the football helps to diminish the normal clumsiness of walk associated with Parkinson’s disease. I was very sceptical about trying Walking Football but I must say I’m a convert now.”

The group has 45 members and holds its regular monthly meetings at St Andrew’s Church in Eastfield Ave, Monkseaton, on the third Monday of each month from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.

Walking Football is designed to help people keep an active lifestyle irrespective of their age or disability. The rules are the same as normal 5- a- side football but there is no running and no slide tackling which means there is less stress on the body as there is no sudden change of direction or cutting movements.