Walking soccer making a difference in the lives of senior citizens
Organization offers program for seniors to stay active and social
February 7, 2019, 4:00 pm ASTLast Updated: February 13, 2019, 9:15 am
More than 30 senior citizens showed up at the BMO Soccer Centre to play a game slightly different than soccer Wednesday morning.
Walking soccer is a non-competitive, self-refereed version of soccer, where participants walk instead of run and play with smaller-sized nets. Contact and shots above the knee aren’t allowed. The weekly program is put on by Walking Soccer Nova Scotia for those aged 55 and up as a way to stay physically and socially active.
Registration costs $50 for the first season, then $40 for each subsequent season. Seasons, which have 10 to 12 games each, take place in the spring, fall and winter.
Recreational therapist, Dana Mills and a group of volunteers coach participants and lead them through warm-up and warm-down stretches.
Mills finds the program satisfying because she gets to see participants reach different levels of potential.
“I love it because I see people who are older making a big transition, whether it be retirement or health changes, have fun and be happy. They come satisfied and they leave satisfied,” said Mills. “They look forward to it every week.”
Volunteer Manuel Escobar coaches participants on the basic fundamentals of soccer. He said he has seen improvement in participants’ mobility and social skills.
“It’s amazing how much they have improved since their first time,” said Escobar. “They move better and engage each other socially.”
Irene Angelopoulos and Xeni Theohapopoulos are sisters-in-law who spent years watching their children play together from the sidelines.
“We’re going to get our husbands to play next week,” said Theohapopoulos.
“And get our kids on the sidelines to cheer for us,” said Angelopoulos through a laugh.
Walking soccer is held at the BMO Soccer Centre at 210 Thomas Raddall Dr. every Wednesday from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.
You can find more information on Walking Soccer Nova Scotia here.