Cancer patients who are undergoing or who have completed treatment from Royal Surrey County Hospital and other treating hospitals are being invited to give Walking Football a try, after funding was secured from Sport England.
The initiative, which is a partnership between Surrey Heartlands CCG, Royal Surrey County Hospital and Surrey FA is being offered for free and aims to introduce patients, their families and friends to Walking Football, to help encourage a more healthy, active and social lifestyle for cancer patients.
There will be two sessions a week on a Friday from 11:00am-12:00pm then 12:00pm-1:00pm and will be led by a Surrey FA Walking Football coach. The first session started on May 7, 2021 at Surrey Sports Park, University of Surrey.
The Walking football sessions are open to anyone, of any age, who has had a diagnosis of cancer and wants to start exercising in a fun, friendly group led by a professional coach. It has specific rules that outlaw all running and allows no contact between players. Games are played at a slower pace, so reducing the risk of pain, discomfort and injury, with players briskly walking through games.
Alex Greenway, Macmillan Cancer Pathway Interface Programme Manager said: “It has been exciting working with the Royal Surrey County Hospital and Surrey FA to achieve funding, from Sport England, to develop the pilot for Walking Football as a way for people living with and beyond cancer to undertake physical activity in a safe way. I look forward to seeing the pilot develop and participants enjoying themselves in a safe space.”
James Chadwick, a St Luke’s patient excited about getting involved with the Walking Football, said: “Playing sport and keeping active have been hugely important for me during my chemotherapy. It has helped to reduce fatigue and get me back as close to normal as can be after each course of treatment.
“I am excited to finally have the chance to play organised football in an environment where I can feel safe, without as much physicality, while I am feeling weaker. The social aspect of sport is something which I have definitely missed whilst having chemo during the pandemic and I am excited to get back to this soon.”
Rebecca Peak, Macmillan Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist from St Luke’s Cancer Centre, Royal Surrey County Hospital said: “When you're diagnosed with cancer, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. You have your health, life and family to think about instead, but research shows that physical fitness may help treat cancer and improve your quality of life. That is where exercise oncology fits in. It uses physical fitness to help enhance the lives of people with cancer and cancer survivors.
“As medical professionals we recommend Walking Football is a good start to improving quality of life. Please join us, we are walking with you”.
Dr Sophie Otter, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Royal Surrey said: “Walking football is a really good way of increasing your activity when you have had or are receiving treatment for cancer”.
“It provides a great social support mechanism too, being with other people who have experienced the same thing, everyone is feeling the same.”