Hawks ready for football festival

Shaun Gale. Picture: Dave Haines
Shaun Gale. Picture: Dave Haines
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Hawks over-50s are gearing up for the Walking Football Festival in Eastleigh on Saturday.

The competition was launched by the Hampshire Football Association this year following a dramatic surge in interest in the sport.

As the name suggests, running is banned in walking football – allowing elderly and less mobile people to keep active and keep playing the game.

The festival will feature 21 five-a-side teams from across the county competing for the inaugural Hampshire Legends Cup at Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium.

The Hawks over-50s side was formed in September and the 18-strong squad meet for training every Thursday morning, receiving coaching from the Hawks’ first-team assistant manager Shaun Gale.

Gale believes this increasingly popular sport is a great way for older people to keep active and involved in the community.

‘It’s a fun element to a great game,’ he said.

‘We have guys from 50 to 72 in the squad and it’s about getting out of the house and being social.

‘In a way it allows them to relive their youth.

‘This isn’t about winning games or tournaments – we have some lads who haven’t played since school and some who’ve played in non-league.

‘They all just want to enjoy themselves and keep active.

‘I have a great set of lads who turn up week in, week out, rain or shine because they enjoy it.’

Gale believes the upcoming tournament and increasing participation in the sport could eventually lead to a league being established.

He said: ‘We’ve had one friendly so far but this tournament should be interesting with a lot of local teams competing.

‘If they win it, they win it but at their age it’s not about that. It’s about having fun.

‘I think eventually there will be a league because there are quite a few teams around.

‘We’ve had some meetings with the council, so give it a year and there might be a league formed.

‘I definitely think it will take off.’

The Hawks will be joined by a team from Hayling, three Emsworth squads and a Portsmouth outfit at the festival.