Lincolnshire FA, in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, has recently launched the '50 for 50' campaign - looking for 50 clubs to raise £50 to help reach a goal of £2,500 during the next football season.
The '50 for 50' challenge is an opportunity for clubs to embrace some fun and fundraising, get outdoors and help to fund life saving and life changing research.
September is also the month of action for the 'Spotlight On' campaign for the British Heart Foundation, a campaign that aims to put a spotlight on hidden heart conditions to raise their profile and fund urgently needed research that could help save lives.
Ian Lang, 77, plays Walking Football in Grimsby and Market Rasen, and worked in the airlines at Gatwick for around 30 years before taking an early retirement to look after his wife, who was taken ill, and moved to Lincolnshire.
"When I retired, things slowed down and I started taking everything easy. I started putting weight on, getting up to about eighteen and a half stone. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I was determined that it wasn’t going to stop me. I made some lifestyle changes; eating habits, that type of thing. I got some weight off but then it slowed down, and I couldn’t seem to get it any lower."
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of sugar in your blood is too high. Sugar in the blood is also known as glucose, it’s your body’s main source of energy. It comes from the food you eat, particularly carbohydrates like bread and potatoes.
Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to cells around the body to give them energy to work. When there’s glucose in the bloodstream, the pancreas (an organ near the stomach) makes a hormone (a chemical messenger) called insulin. Insulin tells the body’s cells to absorb the glucose and use it as energy.
Diabetes can cause damage to your blood vessels. This increases your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases.
Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or your body doesn’t use the insulin it makes properly, and is a common condition.
Ian took up Walking Football after seeing his neighbour going out one morning, football boots in hand. Intrigued by where he was going when he found out his neighbour was heading to Walking Football sessions, Ian went to have a look - and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I went down there and a saw a lot of people from aged 50 upwards, and I thought I could perhaps do this. So I got started and was going regularly for about two years. I noticed that the weight was started to move down again."
Ian began to notice the difference that Walking Football was having on his health, and this was soon confirmed by his doctor.
"I had my five year check-up, and they told me it’s definitely improving. They kept me under observation, and two years later they told me they could take me off the diabetes medication. I had put my diabetes into remission, and I was down to fourteen and a half stone. I started going to walking football once a week, and I now play four times a week."
It's not just the physical health benefits that Ian has noticed either. He sees a lot of mental benefits to the game too.
"It’s the banter, the comradeship and everything else. You get a wide variety of people, across different age groups but we are all the same, age is just a number. I get a lot from walking football. I feel like a new man, and I feel like I did when I was in my fifties. I don’t feel as though I am doing anything over the top."
"I have played for the first official Over-75s team. I play at Grimsby now too and we have 70 people turn up to play on a Thursday. We have people play with disabilities too, it is very inclusive. We have people that have had heart conditions, muscular challenges and cancer, and someone with a terminal diagnosis. People keep coming for the inclusion, the camaraderie, the support and the companionship."
Heart and circulatory diseases affect over 7.6 million people across the UK, with 160,000 of those living in Lincolnshire alone. However, many of these conditions are often viewed as unseen or non-life threatening. Stories like Ian's highlight the importance of this season's '50 for 50' campaign, and the wider work of the British Heart Foundation.
Melanie Meik, Community Engagement and Fundraising Manger for Lincolnshire at BHF, said: “Ian’s story is quite remarkable. Joining walking football has not only allowed him to move into a supporting, fun and engaging community but has positively impacted his health. Being active has helped Ian to significantly reduce his weight and send his diabetes into remission. What an incredibly powerful testament for walking football and helping your heart health along the way”
If you'd like to donate to the '50 for 50' campaign, you can do this here
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