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Boost for female football in Exeter

There will be more opportunities for women to play football in Exeter – thanks to the launch of new Exeter City Football Club female walking football sessions.

Launched by Exeter City Community Trust, in partnership with Exeter City Football Club, the sessions will cater for women who want to take up walking football, whether for recreation or competitively.

Walking football, a modified version of the traditional sport, has gained popularity for its emphasis on low-impact, social, and recreational play. Exeter City’s introduction of dedicated sessions for women marks another step in expanding the accessibility of football within the community.

The club has worked with Gillian Burgess, who has established a number of walking football groups across the county, including the Exeter and District Ladies team, which she established more than two years ago and will now transition across to be part of the Exeter City female football pathway through this partnership.

She said: “We have been running sessions at locations across Devon for a few years and it has become more and more popular. I realised that although Exeter City Community Trust offers many opportunities for female football, it didn’t have a women’s walking football group.

“There are a lot of players who will be very proud to play in a City strip, and it is fantastic that the club has enabled us to take this to the next level.”

Gillian added: “Our players range in age from 38 to 56, generally the sessions are for women over 40. We have people who have never played before and those who have played competitively at a younger age, of the original members of our club, 90% had never played before.

“Anyone coming along will find a really welcoming and fun atmosphere. Sessions are great for fitness, but also for social inclusion and reducing isolation. Many of our players are care givers, or they work from home and these sessions offer a chance for recreation and time off.”

The Exeter City Women’s Walking Football competitive training takes place at Crealy on a Sunday evening, with plans for more recreational sessions. Players can participate for fun, or they can play competitively, with opportunities to progress, which ultimately can result in representing England in international tournaments.

Will Barrett, charity development officer at Exeter City Community Trust, said: “We believe that football is a sport for everyone, and the introduction of Women’s Walking Football sessions reinforces our commitment to inclusivity. This programme is not just about playing football; it’s about building a supportive community where women can stay active, make new friends, and enjoy the benefits of physical activity.

“We’re very grateful to Gillian for being such an incredible driving force and great advocate for the sport.”

He added: “The women’s walking football sessions add another dimension to our female football pathway, which provides opportunities for girls and women to play football from just three years old.”

Walking football is played at a slower pace, with modified rules to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for participants. It has proven to be an excellent way for individuals to stay active, improve fitness, and foster social connections.

The first session with Exeter City Women’s Walking Football is free. For more information, please contact: Gillian on 07704 444593 or [email protected]