Walking football ‘World Cup’ highlights the health benefits of staying active

08 June 2018
UP FOR THE CUP: Bianca Gascoigne and Gary Mabbutt show off their ‘Star Player’ awards after taking part in the Inner City World Cup at Hackney Marshes.

Reality TV star Bianca Gascoigne and former England footballer Gary Mabbutt joined hundreds of people of all ages and abilities at an event which highlighted the life-changing benefits of staying active.

Bianca, 31, showed she had picked up a few skills from her famous stepdad, former England star Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne, when she captained her team to victory at the Inner City World Cup ­over-40s walking football tournament, held on Hackney Marshes.

Gary, 56, who captained Tottenham Hotspur to victory in the FA Cup and won 16 caps for England, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a teenager and has supported the local initiative for the last three years. 

Organised by LoveFootball to celebrate the 2018 World Cup and sponsored by Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the tournament brought together men and women aged 40+ of varying fitness levels, in teams representing the borough’s many diverse cultures.

Although competition was fierce, the primary aim was to showcase the opportunity that walking football provides to people in Newham who are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease – by helping them to stay healthier.

The NHS recommends that people undertake at least 150 minutes of exercise each week to remain healthy and to combat long-term conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease which are very common in Newham.

During the tournament players took part in a short survey on health services and over 150 bags with information to help families with diabetes have a healthy, balanced diet and Orchid Charity - fighting male cancer information packs on testicular, prostate and penile cancers were handed out.

Wayne Farrah, Vice-Chair of Newham CCG, said: “It was great to see so many people taking part in the tournament and displaying the benefits that getting involved in sport can have for health and wellbeing.

"The event was not only great way for people to enjoy themselves, it was also an excellent opportunity for us to highlight information about male cancers and diabetes, and how keeping fit and active with low impact sport such as walking football can be fun.

"Through walking football we’ve successfully engaged with men who are less likely to go to their GP, and it’s helped some of those taking part to improve their health and wellbeing and build new friendships.

"It’s just one of the many ways the CCG is working to connect local people with their NHS.”

Other local initiatives, including the Newham Community Prescription, allow GPs to refer people to sports and activities that encourage them to make changes to their lifestyle as part of a tailored 24-week programme.

The programme delivered by the 150Club – a ground-breaking partnership involving NHS Newham CCG, Newham Council, the Staywell Partnership and West Ham United Foundation – recently won the BT Sports Industry Community Programme of the Year Award for 2018 and was runner up in the Global Good Awards for Best Partnership in the Community category. 

All in all, the LoveFootball tournament not only gave the men an opportunity to have fun in the sun, but also a chance to tell us about their journey to better health through the beautiful game.

If you have any concerns about diabetes or your cardiovascular health, please make an appointment with your GP.