Moor Allerton Elderly Care walking football team volunteer coach keeps up spirits of players
For Leeds grandad David Wynick and his walking football group, the prospect of soon being able to meet in person again has brought about a new sense of optimism.
The 61-year-old volunteer coach has played an important role over the past year in keeping up the spirits of the 30 or so men and women aged over 50 who are part of the Extra Timers group hosted by Moor Allerton Elderly Care (MAECare).
“I’m feeling upbeat, particularly because of the vaccine, particularly because one of the main things I’ve got involved in is the walking football group,” he said.
“The rules say we can start again on Sunday. I’m actually giving it a couple of weeks, so we start again on April 11. I’m really excited about that.”
Thanks to a WhatsApp group set up to keep everyone connected, David knows that all of the players have now had their first Covid-19 vaccination and one of the women involved is about to get her second.
Before the second lockdown when the group was able to meet up again, she had felt uncomfortable attending.
Now, knowing that she will have had both her jabs, she is among those looking forward to getting back to playing games.
“Generally it’s a more positive feel,” David said. “I’m looking to double our sessions so we’ll do two a week.
“Of course, it’s springtime too so what’s not to be grateful for? You’ve got to look at the small wins and be happy with those, and bit by bit those little wins become bigger wins.”
David still works one or two days a week but started combining that with volunteering after attending Extra Timers and realising he could help to continue the sessions.
He said: “I get more of a thrill out of doing volunteering work and stuff like that; to get this group back together that we’ve got.”
Offering that important social connection during lockdown has required some creativity on his part.
“I’ve had them entertained through exercise videos, individual quizzes, team quizzes, all sorts of stuff just to keep a group of people together and have a little bit of contact with somebody different,” he said.
“It’s helped me learn new skills about video, production, social media platforms, how to get the message out to people.
“I’ve got as much from it as hopefully they have, it’s both sides of the coin. The group is a mixed group but there’s a lot of mental health issues for isolated men. We’re a different breed to the ladies in showing our feelings and this side of things.
“There’s one guy in the group who had to stop coming because he developed throat cancer. I’ve kept in touch with him. He’s keen now to come back because he’s had most of his treatment.”
For David, seeing the way people have been supporting others - whether in the group or in the local community - has been one of the positives to come out of a challenging 12 months.
He said: “It’s just acts of kindness, isn’t it? There’s so many people who do so much for so many.
“One of the worries is if we should get the all clear on June 21, will all this kindness stop. Hopefully not.”
To find out more about Extra Timers, email [email protected] or call or text David on 07921 528499.
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