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John Lovegrove at Middlesex FA Walking Football session in Hillingdon

A new lease of life - how walking football has helped stroke victim John

Retired taxi driver, John, says walking football has given him a new lease of life after getting involved with the Hillingdon Stroke Association.

I had my stroke just a few months after I retired, which affected me a great deal because I was very active even into my retirement.

I was a keen golfer and played three times a week. I used to like riding a bicycle and played any ball game and other sports as well, like badminton and table tennis.I wouldn’t have wanted to go back to work or anything like that, but I was very active and one of the biggest things that affected me was that I could not get my driving licence back, I had to give that up for fear of having another stroke and I still haven’t got it back six years later.

I lost a lot of independence – I can’t really get on a bus – I used to enjoy fishing and you need a little car to get bits and pieces around with you.

I heard about the walking football through the Hillingdon Stroke Association – I used to go to one in Ealing when I first came out of hospital but this is the group which first introduced us to walking football.

It’s all a bit of fun and nothing too demanding. I’ve really enjoyed getting back and getting active with walking football.

It’s a good workout, I learned to walk and balance on my own again, but I haven’t got the movement I used to have – I can’t ride a bicycle or even get on a bicycle – things like that.

But something like this, I can partake and really enjoy it – you have a lot of fun and a laugh and no-one takes it too seriously.

You compare yourself to the guy next door – I feel quite fortunate in a way compared to some of the other guys, even though I can’t do the things I used to do.

Walking football is one of the highlights of my week, it’s so important for me. It’s a good physical workout even though I go to exercise classes.

It’s not the same, it’s more demanding physically and I can honestly say it really helps. I’ll sleep properly tonight as well!”

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The session was set-up in March 2017 by Middlesex FA for members of the Hillingdon Stroke Association and has been running at Botwell Leisure Centre in Hayes ever since. 

Recovering from a stroke can be a long and winding road but the group have found playing football is the perfect way of helping victims stay active. It is now the highlight of the week for people who see it as both an extra boost for mental and physical rehabilitation and a place to meet friendly faces. 

From March 2018, the session will be delivered by coaches from local National League South team, Wealdstone FC. Find out more about Walking Football and the sessions available near you, here. Alternatively, contact us at info@middlesexfa.com or call 020 8515 1919.