Former Sunderland AFC stars try out walking football at the Beacon of Light

A group of former Sunderland AFC stars dusted off their boots to help a new fitness drive hit the ground walking.

The Beacon of Light has launched new weekly walking football sessions, aimed at encouraging older people and those who have got out of the habit of exercise to keep fit.

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Games are played on a five-a-side pitch, but at walking pace, making matches suitable for players of all ages and abilities.

Former Black Cats stars including Lee Howey, David Corner, Martin Smith and Gary Bennett took part in the first session on the Beacon’s outdoor five-a-side pitches.

Kieron Brady was among those taking part, and admitted resisting the temptation to break into a run was a challenge.

“It is my first time playing walking football,” he said, “though a lot of Sunderland fans would probably tell you they had seen me play it quite often.

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

“It is difficult to get the hang of not being allowed to run, but I think it is a very good idea for people who aren’t so mobile but still want to keep fit.”

Fifty-eight-year-old former dentist Michael Oliver was among those trying his hand.

Michael is a keen supporter of the Foundation’s work and has taken part in its fund-raising cycle rides for several years.

“I think it is fantastic,” he said.

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

“I have worked with the Foundation for over 10 years and I have witnessed first hand the work it does in our community.

“It is the first time I have played walking football. I came down just to sample the experience and I have to say I am impressed.

“For people of a certain age, it’s perfect.”

Held every Thursday from 11am at the Beacon of Light, players of all ages and abilities are welcome to take part in the Walking Football sessions, with the focus on having fun and keeping fit.

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

After matches, players will gather for refreshments at the Centre Circle Kitchen, the Beacon of Light’s healthy café offering a broad range of meals and drinks.

Walking Football at the Beacon is free for the first session, with subsequent sessions costing just £2.50.

No booking is required.

For more information, call 0191 5634818 or email info@foundationoflight.co.uk.

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID

Former SAFC players taking part in the first walking football session to be held at The Beacon of Light. Picture by FRANK REID