Alzheimer Scotland has launched a new dementia-friendly walking football league to help improve the lives of people living with dementia across Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Targeted at football fans and ex professional players, the support group is already proving a big hit with attendees including Queens Park legend, Peter Sweeney.
Developed to help give people living with dementia the opportunity to remain involved with football ‘Hampden Heroes’ offers a slower paced version of the game, where participants can keep active at Hampden stadium, the home of Scottish football. The project also gives attendees the chance to compete and win the Alzheimer Scotland Walking Football League and Glasgow Cup later this year.
Chris Kelly, Volunteer Coordinator from Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Resource Centre in Bridgeton, who created the project, said: “I knew pretty early on that I wanted to create a dementia-friendly activity where people with dementia could stay connected with football in the community and also take part in some light physical activity. Thanks to the Lens project at work, I was given the chance to strengthen my idea and eventually won funding to help create the Hampden Heroes group, to help improve the lives of people living with dementia.
“Participants are given the chance to play the game they love, for the team they support, at Hampden Park. The project has been the outcome of months of planning and I am thrilled that we now have the opportunity to bring the league to life. Thanks also to the support and generosity from our partners, we have been able to bring together the league and cup season showing the positive effects that football can have in improving the lives of people living with dementia.”
Former footballer, Peter Sweeney, who played for Queen’s Park during the 1960s and is living with dementia, said: “The Hampden Heroes project is fantastic, I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part as it has brought back many memories of playing for Queen’s Park in the 60's. The only downside was that I sometimes struggle not to run and cheat a little! It is a great way for people living with dementia to socialise and exercise and I would definitely recommend it to others."
The project has been made possible thanks to the support of the Alzheimer Scotland’s involvement with The Lens, an intrapreneurship programme which encourages the creation of innovative and sustainable ideas to the benefit of the wider community. The project has also benefited from support from partners including; Football Memories Scotland, Hampden Park and the Hampden Sports Clinic and funding from Third Lanark, who have donated strips for the players.
Football Memories Scotland volunteer and former Clyde FC player, Robert Harvey, added: “I played my first game of professional football at Hampden Park on New Year’s Day in 1973, but it was not as much fun as playing in Alzheimer Scotland’s walking football league game at Hampden. It is great to see the support of everyone in the dressing room before the game; the joy on the faces of the players as they pulled on their jersey; and the pleasure as they step onto the pitch and being part of a football team. Most of the gentleman playing were probably born with a football under their arm, and even today it is crystal clear the pleasure they were experiencing with a ball at their feet. Football is much more than just winning three points on a Saturday. Alzheimer Scotland have also given the families and spectators who watched the game today positive and lasting memories of their family that will never be forgotten.”
The Alzheimer Scotland Hampden Heroes dementia-friendly walking football league is held at Hampden Park monthly with up and coming groups taking place on 4 July, 1 August and 12 September. After a warm-up devised by the Hampden Sports Clinic, players take part in 10-minute games. Teams will all play each other once with the winner picking up the league trophy and player medals at the end of the season. The dementia-friendly project has also received the backing of the following Glasgow-based clubs; Partick Thistle FC, Queen’s Park FC, Rangers FC, and Celtic FC
If you are interested in more information about the Alzheimer Scotland Hampden Heroes project contact Chris Kelly from Alzheimer Scotland on Tel: 0141 418 3943 or email: [email protected].