85 year-old John Barnes recently became Cardiff City FC Foundation’s oldest beneficiary by joining our walking football team. However, this is not the first time he’s represented the Bluebirds.

 

John’s love for football began at the age of 16 when he was at school. The dream to play as a professional footballer was real for John, however this dream took a slight detour when John enrolled in the Royal Airforce and assigned to barracks in Staffordshire.

 

Before John left for the Midlands, a Cardiff City Football Club representative realised the talent John possessed as a youngster during a Cardiff and District U18 fixture.

 

“Staffordshire was Wolverhampton Wanderers territory and I remember City were due to play Wolves whilst I was there. The Club sent me a ticket for the game and that’s when I felt I was part of it.”

 

Whilst he was still stationed at Staffordshire, John had the experience of a lifetime at the age of just 19 years old.

 

“I played at Ninian Park for Cardiff City Reserves in a Welsh League fixture, it was an absolutely amazing moment for me.”

 

After thinking he’d never be able to represent the Bluebirds again, John was delighted when the opportunity to represent the club he supported as a boy came around for a second time.

 

“Everyone seems to thoroughly enjoy Walking Football and are very passionate. The coaches are amazing too, they accommodate every ability and age. I didn’t think I would ever be playing competitive football at my age but it’s a lot of fun.”

 

Walking football is one of the main sources of exercise for John and has seen an overall increase in his physical activity. The sessions have also gone some way to improving his physical and mental health as well as his - and the other participants’ - understanding of health issues and risks.

 

“There’s a social aspect to it as well, it’s always good to meet new people and make new friends. Being able to chat about the City and football in general with the guys who share the same passion as I do is one of the main reasons I attend so regularly.”  

 

Providing inclusive access to community sport for females, BME groups, people with a disability and people from disadvantaged communities is one of the Foundation’s many commitments to South Wales communities.

 

Seeing John enjoy and develop as part of the delivery of our walking football sessions truly proves that our Club changes lives.