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Gloucestershire Business News

England football hopefuls take to the field in Punchline kit

A team of England hopefuls who will be seeking European football glory will be taking to the pitch wearing Punchline sponsored kit.

No, your favourite Gloucestershire business publication hasn't struck the mother of all sponsorship deals with Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and co.

But we are supporting a Gloucestershire success story by having our names plastered across the kits of the South West England regional walking football team.

The Over-70s side proudly wore the Punchline name in battle with the Wales team last month and earned a 1-0 win - much to the chagrin of Punchline editor and fanatical wales fan Mark Owen.

The South West regional team were managed in that tussle by Gloucester's own version of Gareth Southgate: Stuart Langworthy, the manager of the England Walking Football team.

A stalwart of the county football scene thanks to his long-term involvement with Abbeymead Rovers, Mr Langworthy is now preparing his charges for the European Championships in June.

And to bridge the gap between the thriving club scene and international games, the regional teams have been set-up for the boss to see prospective players in action.

"Walking football has been going for around six or seven years now and it's probably one of the fastest growing sports in the world," Mr Langworthy said.

"In Gloucestershire we have four or five clubs, but with more joining all the time and there is a county league run by the FA.

"What we're looking to do is grow the sport and get regional teams formed so we can bridge the gap between the club sides and the England side.

"We have a South West regional team that covers Gloucestershire and all the way down to Cornwall and Dorset and points in between.

"Those teams have all been formed recently at over-50s, over-60 and over-70 level - the over-70s team had their first game recently and beat Wales."

The European Championships are scheduled to be played in Chesterfield in June with eight teams from across the continent scheduled to take part.

But walking football is not just about representing England or the region. There is a burgeoning club scene too, with teams across the county encouraging players of all ages to play.

"Walking football can also be for under-50s as well," Mr Langworthy said.

"We have a growing number of people who are recovering from heart problems or who have had injuries that join in with us at Abbeymead.

"The main thing is to get older people up and playing sport and being active. Fun, fitness and friendship is what it's all about.

"A lot of the people we have that play say it's the most enjoyable part of their week. It's not just the football but the social side of having a beer or a coffee after playing."

Walking Football currently receives no funding from the Football Association and the England team and representative sides are self-funded.

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