Veterans from Welsh support service Change Step have freshened up their ball skills and their physical and mental wellbeing after working with Premier League side Swansea City this summer.
A partnership with the club’s Community Trust has offered a new weekly walking football and health programme to Change Step participants.
The regular sessions – which aim to make a positive impact physically, psychologically and socially – have proven popular, with veterans throwing themselves into the action with gusto.
Change Step participant Mark Oelofse said the regular matches – at Baglan Boys and Girls Club – had been hugely beneficial.
“We’ve been playing for about two months,” he said. “It has helped me improve my fitness but also my mental stability.
“It allows me to cope better, and adapt to, civilian life. It has also helped me to communicate better with civilians.”
Fellow veteran Dave Hampson said: “I’ve noticed a big improvement on my health, as well as helping me to get out, meet people and being active, which, being veterans, a lot of us need.
“The aspect I enjoy the most about walking football is the camaraderie between us all. When we’re together, it’s just like being one big family.”
Swansea City FC Community Trust senior health trainer Jack Spillets said: “Walking football has been a huge success with attendance at the sessions growing every week in parallel with the skill level and competitiveness shown in each session.
“Having regularly joined in with the sessions myself, it is easy to see the benefits that these sessions can have on an individuals’ health and well-being.”
Delivered by veterans for veterans, Change Step offers peer mentoring and help to access relevant services — including support with mental health, substance misuse, criminal justice and housing issues.
Our peer mentors deliver support at drop-in locations throughout Wales, plus activities and one-on-one support, while dedicated staff work with veterans’ families.
We help anyone in Wales who has been a member of the UK Armed Forces, and have worked with more than 1,000 veterans and their families since we launched in 2014.
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