Interview with Phill Bellamy, initiator of the Madeira Walking Football
(MWF) Hi Phill. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview here for MWF. Can you start by telling us about yourself? For example, did you play sports before and how long did it take you to become interested in walking football?
(Phill) I played competitive football at a senior level (against men) from the age of 15 until the age of 50. Then I gained a diploma in Sports Psychology and went into football management for a few years. When I retired from working in 2016 there became a void in my life and after reading an advertisement for Walking Football I joined a newly formed club and became fully involved in the running of it, which I did successfully and with great satisfaction for the 4 years.
A new experience and the fun all attendees enjoy, we laugh with each other, not at each other.Phill Bellamy
(MWF) Why do you think Walking Football would be interesting to play here on Madeira Island?
(Phill) In November 2020 I moved to Madeira in the hope of joining a Walking Football club and I was astonished to find there were no clubs on the island, with the immense help and hard work of Don Amaro, an IT engineer and his wife Wil de Jong, (friends for almost 20 years), the massive task was undertaken and Madeira Walking Football was borne. With an ageing population on Madeira (16% of which are over 65’s) we thought it could become very popular form of exercise.
(MWF) How many times a week do you participate in Walking Football sessions?
(Phill) I now take 2 sessions per week at 2 different locations, Monday’s at Centro Desportivo Stadium and Friday’s at Municipal Stadium, both in Ribeira Brava
(MWF) Have you felt fitter and healthier since you started Walking Football and if so, in what ways?
(Phill) Yes, I lost excess weight, my general all round health improved the more I played.
(MWF) Has your social life changed since you started playing, and if so, how?
(Phill) Yes, as well as the sessions, we socialise after every session, we have a drink or 3 tell our stories and have a laugh, meeting new people and making new friends has been great.
(MWF) If you had not become involved in and had not played with Walking Football, how would your life look different?
(Phill) I would be “stuck in a rut” with the same routine’s as before.
(MWF) Describe the buzz you get when you get the chance to play a team sport again.
(Phill) A new experience and the fun all attendees enjoy, we laugh with each other, not at each other.
(MWF) Have you played competitive Walking Football and, if so, in which tournaments/leagues?
(Phill) I have played in competitive “friendlies”, which is good but some players took it too seriously, this took the fun out of the games.
(MWF) Have you completed a first aid training? Or do you know someone with first aid knowledge could accompany the games and practices?
(Phill) I have held a First Aid certificate in the past, but that has now lapsed.
(MWF) What are you currently doing in your training sessions that you think is important to avoid injury and require additional safety precautions due to your medical condition?
(Phill) A 15 minute “warm up” before the session starts and a 5 minute “cool down” at the end of the session is paramount, this helping with recovery from the session and reducing the risk of injury.
(MWF) Has your diet changed since you started Walking Football? If so, what is different?
(Phill) Yes, I look very closely at what I eat, the old saying “you are what you eat” being so true.
(MWF) Can you describe any injuries you have sustained while playing Walking Football and let readers know how they were caused?
(Phill) I once played in a “friendly” for 90 minutes with insufficient breaks and suffered knee ligament damage, which kept me out for 3 months. Any injury sustained in older age does not heal in days or even weeks, it can take months as in my case, which is why I now insist that games are 10 minutes, and then a 3 minute break before starting again.
(MWF) What are your best and worst memories of playing Walking Football?
(Phill) The best memories, to see the improvement in the group’s fitness, health and well-being over a period of time and also being thanked by the group for organizing and making the sessions enjoyable. The worst memories, losing a couple of members suffering deterioration in their general health during the 5 month lock down in 2020 the UK, Walking Football had given them something to look forward to and enjoy. There is a message to be taken from this, Walking Football is seriously helpful for your health and well-being.
(MWF) What do you like most about Walking Football?
(Phill) Seeing the improvement in the group’s fitness, health and well-being over a period of time.
(MWF) What do you like least about Walking Football?
(Phill) The end of a session, knowing it maybe a week before seeing the group again.
(MWF) Do you find it difficult NOT to run and what advice could you give someone to keep walking pace?
(Phill) Yes, everyone who attends our sessions have become fitter and improved their ability so they tend to want to run more, I keep telling the group “one foot has to be in contact with the ground at all times” even when not having the ball.
(MWF) What are your goals for the future when you play Walking Football?
(Phill) To get as many people as possible playing the game (men and women) and to enjoy the benefits associated with taking part.
(MWF) What advice would you give to someone eager to play but nervous about approaching a club or attending a Walking Football session for the first time?
(Phill) Come along, have a look, see how friendly and fun the sessions are, bring your trainers as you will want to join in and you will be made most welcome.
(MWF) How do your friends and family feel about your return to sports at your age?
(Phill) Pleased to see me doing something I am passionate about and inspiring others to “give it a go”, you are never too old.out it and inspiring others.
(MWF) What are the costs involved in order for you to play Walking Football for footwear, kit and weekly session fees?
(Phill) A pair of trainers, socks, shorts and T-shirt and water, the cost of the session is 3 euros per person.
(MWF) Is there anything else you would like to share?
(Phill) The attendees comments says it all, “they love it”, and we have the ideal weather 52 weeks a year, what more could you ask for, long may it last with MWF. like it or if it is for you until you try it!