When approaching 70 years of age, for most people, this might be the age they perhaps start to slow things down a bit – but not Tash Fairbanks.
Born in Whitechapel just after the Second World War, Tash always wanted to play football growing up, but simply wasn’t allowed to.
However, five years ago, Tash moved to Brighton & Hove, and, for the first time, found a walking football group to play with, at 69 years young.
Having never kicked a ball before, Tash took it all in her stride and soon fell in love with a different format of the game.
Indeed, that connection to walking football would really flourish when she discovered Coffee & Kicks.
Receiving support from Age UK and Freedom Leisure, Coffee & Kicks is a weekly walking football group for women over 40, based in Portslade.
Overseen by FA Level 1 coach, Karen Dare, the sessions take place indoors, and always end with the players meeting in the café for a hot drink.
Following WEURO legacy funding, Coffee & Kicks sessions were able to expand, and, as such, Tash heard about the group and was recommended to give them a try by a friend.
At 74, for Tash, the chance to be coached by a female for the first time, learn new skills and meet new people, was enough to convince her to go along for a session.
Now, despite having Osteoporosis and ME, she plays twice a week, and was invited along with her Coffee & Kicks teammates to a Legacy Legends festival to play friendly matches against other walking football groups.
The festival brought together all the walking football groups who have received funding by the WEURO legacy program in Sussex.
The first of its kind in the county, it was overseen by an all-female event team and referees.
Speaking after the event, Tash said: “Walking football is really inclusive; I enjoy being part of a team activity and improving together as a group.
“Football is my passion and having the opportunity to play in my later years has helped me become more confident and build stamina.”
Giving her thoughts on Tash’s progress, Coach Karen Dare said: “It has been great seeing Tash settle into playing football at our Coffee & Kicks sessions!
“Week after week she gives her full effort, and her football ability has improved and alongside this her confidence has grown.
“Tash always plays with a smile on her face and clearly enjoys the football, new friendships and chat that the sessions provide. It is a real pleasure to have Tash in our lovely group.”
As Tash’s story shows, it’s never too late to get involved in the game, either as a participant, or a leader.
To book on to the session, just visit the Coffee & Kicks website.
If you’re interested in setting up a new women’s walking football session or want help finding a local session to join, then contact