ORGANISERS of a recently launched veterans 11-a-side football league believe it has the legs to be a success.
The Lancashire FA’s Over 40s League kicked off earlier this month with 10 teams from across the county taking part – all proving you are never too old to play football.
And following the interest shown, the LFA want to make it an annual event with more teams and more leagues across the area.
Matches are played on Wednesdays and Thursdays on the 3G pitch at the LFA’s County Ground headquarters in Leyland Of the 10 sides competing, three of the teams are from East Lancashire – including one side made up of individual players who wanted to get involved.
“The response we have had since we announced we were going to start the league has been superb,” said LFA football development officer Shaun Burke who is coordinating the league. “Most of the teams don’t play together on a weekly basis so to get so much interest in the first year is very encouraging.
“We did actually have 12 teams but as is often the case, we had to late withdrawals shortly before the league began.”
Whalley Range from Blackburn and The Park, made up of players from Burnley and the Ribble Valley, are among the inaugural league members as are Lancashire Rangers which include 15 individuals looking to play.
“As well as teams showing interest, we had a number of players looking to get involved but were not part of a team,” added Burke. “So we managed to put a squad of 15 together to form a team.
“They are all strangers but they have had one or two training sessions to get to know each other so it is great we have managed to get them together.”
The league has made it as easy as possible for teams to join with free registration and affiliation to the LFA. A number of kits have also been purchased for some of the teams taking part.
There is small weekly fee for match officials – all matches have a referee and two referee’s assistants – and games are 50 minutes long with roll-on, roll-off subs.
The LFA has targeted those players who generally don’t get the chance to play on a weekly basis – such as parents, coaches and managers involved in junior grassroots football.
“Over the years we’ve had tremendous success organising and supporting leagues for young people, adults, women and girls and the disabled.
“But we wanted to turn our attention to an age group that in the past has been left out of the loop.
“There are plenty over the age of 40 involved in football, either running junior teams or watching their children play football, but don’t get the chance to play because of those commitments.
“This is ideal for them and we have purposely made sure it finishes in August so it does not overlap with those commitments.”
The LFA will be looking to expand next season and launch leagues in other areas of the county.
“The aim is to run the league every summer,” added Burke. “We have 10 teams this season, it would be great to get 12 or 14 next year. We are also looking at starting up a league in the Rochdale area and perhaps we could look in to running a few Inter County matches as well.”
For more information email Shaun.Burke@LancashireFA.com or ring 01772 624000.