A sporting rivalry started a new era recently with five of Chelsea Foundation’s women’s walking footballers representing England in victories over Wales.
The Foundation started women’s walking football in April 2014 and currently has 16 players taking part in the weekly sessions with five of those recently being chosen to represent their country.
Among those selected was Helen Stevens, who earned a place in the England 40+ team and managed to get herself a debut goal in a 7-1 demolition of Wales.
There was also a victory for Carolyn Kelly, Helen Attwell, Laura Strong and Sharon Meek who were called up to the over-50 side, with Strong and Meek both scoring in a 3-1 win over the Welsh national team.
Sharon, 62, said: ‘I still can’t believe it now! I keep on watching the videos back because it was just an amazing weekend.
‘I got the text to say I had been selected and I couldn’t believe it. We went to Wales and played the game, wore the kit, I cried at the national anthem, I cried when I scored my goal and I cried when I received my cap!
‘It was very emotional for me as well as a fantastic and enjoyable weekend.’
Walking football co-ordinator Mark Blythe, who also managed the England 50+ side in their 3-1 win over Wales, said: ‘I was ever so proud of the ladies who were selected.
‘To go and to be able to watch them play, see their excitement and the best bit was seeing them get their caps – that was so special.
‘I stood up to manage the 50+ side and that was crazy. To manage your country at any level of any sport is a massive honour and for them to win their first ever walking football match was fabulous.'
An estimated 40,000 people now take part in walking football every week across the UK and you can join them.
Sessions take place at Xcel Sports Hub, Waterside Drive, Walton KT12 2JG on Friday mornings from 9.30am.