THE MAN vying to make Bromsgrove a centre of excellence for walking sports says he is looking forward to a busy 2020 after packed 2019.
Earlier this month walking hockey, started in the town by Alan Gormley before being exported around the world, celebrated its third birthday.
Those sessions on a Monday evening at the Bromsgrove Hockey Club are still going strong with new people turning up all the time to bolster the ranks.
Towards the end of 2019 new daytime walking hockey sessions started from 10.30am to 11.30am each Thursday and walking football, from 11am to 12pm every Wednesday.
Some sessions had to be cancelled because of adverse weather so they were temporarily brought inside at the Ryland Centre where they have thrived.
The two sessions on January 22 and 23, however, will be at Bromsgrove Hockey and Tennis Club as the Ryland Centre is unavailable for those dates.
Alan said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to the staff at the centre for making us so welcome.
“We get at least a dozen people each week to the sessions which is perfect to have a good game.”
And there is more in the pipeline with walking netball sessions running from 10am to 11am every Wednesday at the Ryland Centre, starting on January 29.
They are being organised in conjunction with England Netball.
On February 27 weekly walking basketball sessions with Jon Miller from Worcester Wolves will run between 12pm and 1pm each Thursday.
Walking cricket has been mooted and discussions are taking place with Bromsgrove Tennis Club and Let’s Play Tennis at Droitwich Lido Park about devising a walking version of that popular court sport.
Alan has set himself a 20 in 2020 challenge to find 20 women to start up a specific Worcestershire Women’s Walking Football team and funding has already been provided for that from the county’s FA.
Currently the walking football sessions are mixed but having a men and women specific teams will enable them to compete and there have already been offers from men’s walking football teams for matches.
Alan said: “Bromsgrove Sporting has been very supportive with the walking football sessions and that has grown since we launched it.”
Other organisations involved in spreading the word about the walking sports revolution include Age UK and the NHS iCope scheme (Integrated Care for Older People).
Alan has plans to extend the walking sports to the County Sports Partnership’s This Girl Can campaign which aims to get more girls and women active and participating in games.
And Alan and his team are involved with the Just Get Active drive to get more people to take up walking sports.
“I’m just flabbergasted with the way everything has taken off in the last three years – it’s been amazing.
“I love to see how excited and energised people are when they take part in the sports and the benefits they get, both socially and to their health and wellbeing.
“It is so rewarding.”
Alan always says the hardest step for anyone to get active is the first step outside their front door.
He is hoping to inspire many more people from across Bromsgrove and beyond to take that step in 2020.
As Alan and his team continue in their quest to make Bromsgrove a ‘Walking Sports Centre’ of excellence, a new Facebook page has been set up for anyone interested in finding out more about the walking sports on offer in the district. Click here for the page and ‘Like’ it to get updates.
For more on Bromsgrove’s Walking Sports, email Alan Gormley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07731 369942.