Octogenarian civic head joins in walking football to launch city’s Festival of Sport

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The Deputy Mayor of Derby will swap ceremonial garb for football gear when he kicks off  Derby’s 2nd Festival of Sport on Friday (June 15).

Councillor Frank Harwood will join teams of players aged over 50 and even over 65 taking part in walking football organised by Derby County Community Trust.

Councillor Harwood, who will be 81 in July, will even take to the pitch and try out the game himself, though this is different to a previous role he had in football – he was a qualified referee. From minor leagues he joined the Football League list in 1975, referring at top grounds around the country.

He will cite the the senior footballers as an excellent example to follow when he formally blows the whistle to start the festival.

The festival, organised by Derby City Sport Forum involves clubs and venues offering free sessions, some of them tasters, to people of all ages across the city.

These include archery, badminton, boxing, fitness exercises, karate, netball, running, swimming, table tennis, and walking football for over 50s at Willows Sport Centre. The council’s Springwood Leisure centre in Oakwood is also putting on sessions for people over 55 to try badminton, bowls, table tennis and short tennis. There is also cycling for people with disabilities.

The sessions have been arranged to encourage people to get off couches and do sport and exercise and so boost healthier lifestyles.

The festival takes place while one of the biggest international sporting competitions, the FIFA World Cup, takes place in Russia. In launching the Festival Councillor Harwood will also wish the England team success in the world tournament.