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Lorraine Chapman - Avid Walking Soccer Player
Lorraine Chapman

Lorraine Chapman has rediscovered her love for the sport for the first time since she played running soccer. She shared her experience with us, here’s what she had to say.

On her introduction to playing soccer for the first time…

I started playing women’s running soccer in the summer when I was 47, and I fell in love with running soccer. Before playing soccer, I had never been on a team in my life and I really was not a soccer fan. I had watched my daughter play when she was younger, but quite frankly, I mainly talked with the other moms. I surprised myself, I didn’t even know the rules, but I found it was something I could do. I first joined the Oakville over 35 women’s, and in my second game of the season, I scored a goal, and I was just amazed by myself. I thought I wanted to be part of this and the social part of this. I played indoors during the winter and outdoors in the summer, and then started to play with a smaller group between Burlington and Milton.

On starting her walking soccer journey…

When I was probably 67 or 68 or numbers started to dwindle, a lot of people were getting injured or dropping out, and so a number of us transitioned over to walking soccer with the fellow at Oakville Soccer Club. Some of the women that I was playing with were doubting walking soccer saying “oh, are the guys going to be okay with us, women, playing?”, and everybody’s been terrific, we just have a really good time. Some of the guys have been playing since they were 3 years old because they’re Brits or Scots. The level of skill is not necessarily higher than women, but some of the footwork skills and competitiveness is higher sometimes. Nobody’s 25 years old anymore, and nobody wants to get injured, but the enthusiasm is still there, and it’s a great atmosphere. When we play, we don’t have set teams in Oakville, but we play every Thursday morning and whoever shows up, we split into three or four teams. You’re never on the same team, so you get to know everybody, and we tend to socialize afterwards. It's just a really fun experience.

On playing at an international walking soccer tournament in Portugal…

I was one of the fortunate people to go to a tournament in Portugal, and now I’ve been to two international walking soccer tournaments. Portugal 3 years ago, and again last October. I thought, who would have ever believed in my life that I’d be on a team playing soccer, and that I’d still be able to do it. The first time I went to a tournament, I was 70, and went again at 73, it’s kind of miraculous. You play a different format internationally. They’re very short games, so you better get revved up really quickly and get used to playing some really good teams. Teams from Britain and Scotland tend to be official teams with sponsors, uniforms, and play with the same people every week, whereas we just had four or five weeks of practices with the group that was going. We made it work, and last time we came 6th out of the 20 teams.

You certainly bond with the group that goes over. One of the guys on the team took it upon himself to give me some coaching during the tournament and I really appreciated it. He does it in a very kind way and it really has been helpful. We had a fabulous time and we certainly made international friends with some other teams too.

On the best parts about joining walking soccer…

Thursday morning is the morning I wake up excited because I have walking soccer. I try to never, ever, ever book anything on Thursday mornings. I went back and did some contract work last summer and I thought, “Oh no, I don't work Thursday mornings”. It always gives you energy. The more physical activity you do, I cycle, I walk, I play pickleball, I play a bit of golf, and overall I think walking soccer is one of the things that helps balance everything. Part of it is the social experience, “How's your leg, Dave?”, “What do you think? Jimmy, are you going to still keep playing to your 90?”, we joke around a lot. Everybody has their favourite teams they root for as well. I have season tickets with Forge FC from the Canadian Premier League and one of my buddies at walking soccer, he's an Atlético [Ottawa] fan, so we get to rip each other about who won what, and say “too bad you didn't get the championship again”. I thought it wouldn't have much aerobic value, but it certainly does. I think because the ball moves fast and you're not as fast when you're walking, you really have to keep moving constantly. It's not like running soccer, where you run and run, and then you stand around for a few minutes and wait for something else to happen. In walking soccer you're constantly moving, so it has high aerobic value.

On her improved fitness with playing walking soccer…

I'm in a fall study at McMaster and there were some tests about balance and ability to correct yourself if you leaned against something and it got pulled away from you. I know I scored really high on these tests because I'm used to bobbing and weaving and stopping and starting from walking soccer. You're up off the couch when you do this kind of stuff and it's really improved my ability to prevent falls. I worked in the healthcare system too, and falling is a killer for older people. Once you have a fall, you can be done. I was very frightened because a year ago last October, I did have a fall at soccer, which I'd never really had before except on a muddy field. When I played running soccer, I tore my upper and lower hamstrings. I went home and started using a cane around the house. Good thing I quickly got to physio and some laser treatments and acupuncture at a chiropractor and I was ready to go again and play in like 3 months. Everyone said with the severity of the hamstring injury it normally takes six months, so I think it’s generally improved my fitness.

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