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Community: Stu Ryder named walking football ambassador

29 March 2018

Former player Stuart Ryder has been named as a walking football ambassador for Walsall FC Community Programme.

Ryder came through the youth ranks and went on to make over 100 appearances for the Saddlers, from 1992 to 1998.

Now 44, Ryder works in sales and is attending Walsall FCCP’s walking football sessions.

Ryder said: “I came across walking football a few months ago when there was quite a bit in the press. I think it’s a great idea for those guys who maybe don’t get as much exercise now and who used to play the game.

“Walking football has reinvigorated the older generation and those with mobility issues to get back and play so I think it’s brilliant.

“It gets men out the house, off the settee, away from the TV and out socialising too.”

As a young professional Ryder showed great potential, playing for England U21s alongside future national team captain David Beckham.

However, a serious knee injury would have a big impact on his career.

Now 44, Ryder works in sales and is attending Walsall FCCP’s walking football sessions.

He said: “After damaging my knee in 1995 I did get back into the first team but was never really the same. In the end I just decided to move away from football.

“Walking football is ideal to get me back into the swing of things. I still have limited movement in my knee but that should improve as my fitness does.”

As well as the physical aspect of walking football, the sport also has added psychological and social benefits for players.

Assistant Community Officer Chris Springthorpe leads the walking football sessions throughout the week.

He added: “It’s fantastic to have Stuart on board supporting our activities. Having a former player involved is great for the guys, and I’m sure many will remember his time with Walsall in the 90s.

“Walking football really is for anyone, whether you are a complete novice or an ex-professional. It’s perfect for older men to improve their mental and physical well-being.”

 

Walsall FC Community Programme host three weekly sessions of walking football - at Shelfield Community Academy (Monday 6-7pm), Sneyd Community Association (Tuesday 10-11am) and the Banks’s Stadium (Friday 6-7pm).


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