Veteran footballers beating lockdown blues

15 June 2020

Being a man can mean you are more likely to get seriously ill if you catch coronavirus, with the latest data showing men are twice as likely to die from it compared to women.

This Men’s Health Week we asked Tony Stroud, who manages William Fitt FC, an over 45s football team in north east London, what men are thinking about the pandemic and lockdown, and how he is making sure his team mates stay safe and healthy.

Tony said: “I knew men are twice as likely to die of the virus because I read about the higher risk groups when all this started but I think that will be news to a lot of men. It’s quite shocking really.”

He added: “Most people know that older people are at risk – and we have players aged from 45-66 in our squad. I didn’t know that being heavier was also a factor. Good job I’ve lost two stone in recent months! Weight does make sense, because it leads to high blood pressure and diabetes.

“One of the lads works for the local NHS so he’s been keeping an eye on any daft messages that get shared – rumours about the spread of the virus and easing lockdown. We’ll get some of these Men’s Health Week messages out to the boys for sure. I think generally people are getting quite blasé about.”

While his players are generally coping well at the moment, the pressures of lockdown are taking their toll and they are desperate to be able to play football again.

Tony said: “At our age we all have elderly parents and people are struggling not seeing them. We’re generally missing the pub and the football. One or two of the lads are really hating it.

“We’re gagging to play football – even one or two who said they were packing it in have changed their minds. There’s also the social side of it – that’s the main thing really. We won the trophy for being most sociable club this season so we can’t wait to get started – but we’ll only do it when it’s safe.

“We can’t believe how much we’ve missed it and that’s why people are making the effort to stay active. Mind you, cycling and walking and playing a game of football for 90 minutes are very different things. I reckon physically we’re around 60/70% ready, but mentally we’re right up for it.”

Despite the age of Tony’s squad, his WhatsApp group is proof that exercise is a great way of coping with lockdown.

Tony said: “As vets footballers we’re still pretty active. We have people cycling, running, lots of walking and now a few are back playing golf. I think we’ve done all the DIY that needed doing at home now too!”

William Fitt FC plays in the Green King Essex Veterans League:

With over 100 teams playing in 13 divisions, clubs across our area are always looking for new players.