Clubhouse Walking Football: A Community Celebration

Walking Football Awards at The Clubhouse La Sala

This past Saturday, I attended an awards ceremony for a local walking football club at The Clubhouse at La Sala. Known for its vibrant ambiance and impeccable service, the venue provided the perfect backdrop for a memorable evening dedicated to celebrating the sport and its community.

The evening began with a warm welcome from Stephen Palmer, head of golf at The Clubhouse La Sala. Stephen, who turned professional in 2002, shared his journey from overcoming financial constraints to becoming a successful golf coach. His dedication and self-reliance led to partnerships with notable figures like 2005 U.S. Open Champion Michael Campbell. “It’s a dream job, helping others fulfill their potential in such a great team,” he said, reflecting the supportive environment of The Clubhouse.

Stephen then introduced me to Rogan O’Connor, Head of Events and Entertainment at The Clubhouse La Sala. Known from MTV’s “Ex on the Beach” and “The Challenge USA,” Rogan’s charismatic personality and welcoming demeanour made it clear why he is perfect for his role. He emphasised that The Clubhouse is open to everyone, dispelling any misconceptions about exclusivity.

The highlight of the evening was the celebration of walking football, a sport gaining momentum among those over 50. Tony Aiello, the Chairman of AC Benahavís Football Club, shared how walking football started as a simple activity for staying active but soon grew into a community with over 50 members. “Initially, it was just a group of guys looking to stay active,” Tony said. “But soon enough, we had over 50 members.”

Walking football, requiring players to always have one foot on the ground, minimises injury risks while remaining fast-paced and engaging. The club’s achievements in its second year in the Andalusian Walking Football League were a testament to their hard work. The over-50s team won the league title, and the over-60s team triumphed in the Euro Cup in Portugal in 2023.

The awards ceremony not only celebrated these victories but also highlighted the club’s community and charitable efforts. The club’s kits proudly display the Samaritans of Spain’s free phone number, raising awareness and promoting their cause. They’ve also raised over 1,500 euros for the “Darkness into Light” initiative. “La Sala symbolises the community spirit and camaraderie that walking football fosters,” Tony noted.

The evening was filled with heartfelt moments and reflections on the impact of walking football. “It’s about bringing people together, fostering friendships, and making a positive difference,” Tony said. The club’s activities extend beyond the field, with social events that include partners and families, enhancing the sense of community.

Former Irish professional footballer Stephen Carr, who played for Birmingham City and the Republic of Ireland, added prestige to the event by helping present the trophies. As the night drew to a close, the overwhelming sentiment was one of gratitude and hope. “We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, but there’s still so much more we can do,” Tony remarked.

Stephen Carr in the middle

For those interested in joining or supporting this initiative, the Walking Football Club offers an open invitation to become part of a community that values health, friendship, and making a difference. The Clubhouse at La Sala, with its excellent amenities and supportive team, has truly become a cornerstone for local sports enthusiasts, ensuring events like this are successful and memorable.

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