Right now, we can’t walk onto the pitch, game faces on, for a five-a-side. The netball court, where we stride with pride up and down alongside our friends, will welcome us back soon… but not yet.
However, the physical act of ‘play’ is just one element of walking sports. Their power goes beyond the pitch or the court. We’re talking about the walking sports family — the special connections we forge, the lifelong friendships we make, the memories we share — that’s always there, no matter what the situation.
Modern technology means it’s never been easier to catch up, banter and laugh over a cuppa with the people you care about. Distance doesn’t come into it. It’s natural to miss your walking sports pals in times like these, so we’ve compiled our favourite methods of communication so you can stay connected.
Nothing beats a traditional phone call, whether it’s on your mobile or landline. Catching up with a close friend on the sofa, tea or Baileys in hand, is a relaxing way to pass the time. That feeling of knowing they’re there, listening to you, laughing with you and supporting you can be a wonderful source of solace at an uncertain time. Whether you’re on the phone for hours, or just a couple of minutes checking in, a call can really brighten your (and their) day.
This popular app is a must for instant messaging, whether on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. Many walking sports teams already have WhatsApp group chat up and running. It’s where you chat logistics, arrange social gatherings, rally the troops on rainier days, share stories and reminisce on funny moments. So, keep that fire burning. Check in to see how your team-mates are doing, post hilarious or heartwarming photos and videos to make everyone smile… the opportunities are endless.
If you’re not part of a WhatsApp group, why not download the app on your computer, mobile phone or tablet and set one up? As well as group conversations, you can message one-to-one and you just need the mobile phone numbers of people you want to chat to.
A WhatsApp video call is also an option, so you can see everyone’s faces and feel like you’re together. Simply click the ‘phone’ icon in the top right corner of your WhatsApp conversation. The novelty of seeing each other on your screen alone will make you chuckle.
Social media (the clue’s in the name!) is an excellent way to keep in touch and highly popular, with millions of over-50s on Facebook, for example.
Social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow you to privately message your friends, post a comment or photo, share updates with everyone you connect with and tag one another. You can close off your page to everyone except your friends for privacy if you wish, too. The opportunities are endless and, if you’re not posting, at least you can see how everyone else in your network is doing. If you’re new to social media, search for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on Google, set up an account and you’ll be sharing and socialising in no time.
At Just Get Active, we’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too. At the click of a button you’ll find a walking sports community of fellow players, volunteers and coaches in Warwickshire and the surrounding areas specifically. It’s an online network just waiting for you!
Sometimes, instant messaging on WhatsApp or Facebook simply isn’t enough. Email is a fantastic method of communication if you have more to say. It’s effectively an electronic twist on the traditional hobby of having a pen pal.
Or why not send a mass email to the people you care about — fellow walking sportsters, family and your extended friendship circle — to ask how they’re doing and share an update. A new email in your inbox from someone you care about can feel as satisfying as a handwritten envelope through the door.
To truly feel like you’re together, apps like Skype enable video calls meaning you can enjoy face-to-face conversations in real-time. Simply arrange a time that suits you all and log in! You could always recreate your post-game gatherings by catching up over a cuppa. The simple act of seeing someone can be so reassuring.
If you’re an iPhone user, a video call app called FaceTime is automatically installed, so catching up with friends and family in your phone book is just a tap away.
Besides being a fantastic form of physical exercise, walking sports offer mental stimulation too. This is important to maintain during down-time. One way to keep your mind sharp is by playing games. These could be word or number based, like Boggle or Sudoku. Other popular hobbies include bridge and chess. Modern technology means there are hundreds of games at your fingertips to enjoy, whether on your computer or as an app on your mobile or tablet. Simply search via your mobile or tablet’s ‘App Store’ or use Google on your computer.
Better yet, these games offer multi-player options, so suggest a friend or two signs up and then challenge them. This is your chance to channel the competitive spirit that supercharges you during walking sports sessions into a different medium, while strengthening your bond.
The beauty of having a mobile phone is that you can contact your friends anytime, anywhere. A good form of consistent communication is texting. If your day is currently filled with housework, sprucing up the garden and all-important ‘me time’, you might prefer to save a proper conversation (say, a phone call or Skype) for a convenient time. In the meantime, texting is a quick, easy way to check in with your team-mates and update them on your day.
Keeping the conversation going
Never fear running out of topics to talk about when life slows down a little. Support one another by sharing activities and tips to brighten up life at home, from ways to keep active to cleaning hacks and TV recommendations. Of course, you can always indulge your love of walking sports by discussing game-play strategies and bakes to bring to future sessions.
Why not spread the word of walking sports to your wider circle of loving family and friends? They may be taking this time out to set new goals, whether it’s getting fit, volunteering or meeting new people — joining a walking sports community ticks all these boxes. How amazing would it be to spend sessions with more of your favourite people? Guaranteed facetime and non-stop fun await. Suggest it and see what they say — at the very least, they’ll be touched you’ve thought of them.
Self-isolation (or ‘cocooning’ as it’s been re-termed by the WI) shouldn’t equal loneliness. Rather, let’s connect with the people we care about, in any way we can. Channel your team spirit by coming together and sharing positivity. No matter the distance, true friendships stand the test of time. Soon you’ll look back on this as you walk together into a game.