Keynsham WFC: Football, friendship and fundraising…
Keynsham, an attractive town that sits midway between Bristol and Bath in north Somerset, boasts a fantastic, community based walking football club that has come a long way since it was first formed in 2014…
The club there had – well, almost quite literally – a concrete start. When the club formed, the founder members played their walking football on a tarmac surface. Before long, however, the club had tied up with the town’s Western League Division One side and this saw them move to a state of the art 4G pitch at the first team’s stadium – they haven’t looked back since.
Now, far from being simply a walking football club, Keynsham has developed into a sociable, caring group that is firmly bound to the community in which it serves.
There’s a closeness to the group here and a feeling of resilience. Far beyond just being like-minded men and women playing football on the same pitch, Keynsham feels like its genuinely a set of mates, brought together by walking football, hanging out and spending time together.
Earlier this year, after mourning the loss of several players to cancer, a group of players banded together to create a music night in their honour. Not only was the evening hugely popular and well attended by the local community, it also raised more than £6,000 for charity, with the proceeds shared equally between Cancer Research UK and MacMillan Cancer Research.
To ensure the wellbeing of its players Keynsham recently tied up with the local Virgin health club, giving players access to weigh-ins and blood pressure checks at the end of certain sessions and allowing them to track how their exercise and diet is impacting on their overall health and wellbeing.
These are just two examples of how the club, a caring enterprise benevolently marshalled by the affable Martin Coles, has developed into a pillar of the local community over the last three years.
“The music night was a great way to give something back while celebrating our wonderful sport,” explained Martin. “We’re continuing to raise funds for more good causes now while enjoying all the benefits of the beautiful game played at a slightly slower pace.”
Sessions at Keynsham are certainly upbeat. The group are a lively set of West Country lads and the banter, as you would quite possibly expect, was flowing back and forth during our visit.
There are two sessions available each week, with one dedicated to over 65s and the other available for anyone who is 55 or older. They are affordable at just £3 a time.
This has led to more than 60 people registering to play and meaning that the sessions are often lively affairs packed with eager players.
Regulars Brian Mackay, Chris Ashton, John Mead, Dave Baldwin, Steve Davis, Richard Isles and ‘Lord’ Jim Whiting (referred – more than once – to ‘Her Ladyship’ at home) were on hand during the over 65 session we attended and showed a great level of ability and energy that belied their years – perhaps there’s something in that fresh, West Country air?
While the main attraction is the football, that is not the only thing drawing people in.
The club actually has a very active social scene and hosts curry nights, skittle evenings and ten pin bowling events to ensure that the group are just as close off the pitch as they are on it – and that might well explain how they generate such understanding between themselves – particularly when it comes to the almost non-stop banter!
Delightfully even the WAGs have got on board. They have, quite wonderfully, started their own social group and regularly arrange to meet away from their other halves. Some close friendships have been developed on the back of it.
And that, you feel, is the overarching purpose of Keynsham WFC. Football, while being the core reason for this lively bunch of individuals to get together, is not the only motivating factor behind continued participation.
Like many other clubs across the country, a large portion of the group is motivated by friendship, camaraderie and lively banter. Martin and his teammates at Keynsham have hit this nail firmly on the head.
Keynsham Town meet each Tuesday (over 65s) and Friday (over 55s) and new players are always welcome. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org