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Pep, Gundogan and Adarabioyo try walking football

Pep Guardiola, Ilkay Gundogan and Tosin Adarabioyo recently swapped the intensity of Premier League action for a more sedate version of the beautiful game with City in the Community (CITC).

The trio joined Blues’ legend Mike Summerbee to train with CITC’s walking football team as the Foundation celebrates 30 years of making a difference in Manchester.

The 24-man strolling squad – with a combined age eclipsing 700 years - received a word of advice from Guardiola before testing their skills against three generations of City player.

Slower it may be, but for Gundogan and Adarabioyo, who are used to the fast pace of the modern game, walking football presented quite a challenge.

Fortunately the CITC team were on hand to explain the subtleties of the game, which awards free kicks for any player who breaks into a run.

Ilkay was delighted to have the opportunity to experience the Club’s efforts in the community.

“What a brilliant game,” he said.

It’s a lot harder than you think as you have to remember not to run. It’s a pleasure to get out in the community and see first-hand the work City in the Community has been doing in Manchester for the past 30 years!”

CITC’s walking football initiative launched in 2014 and for George Houghton it has been invaluable. Not only has it allowed him to rekindle his passion for the game, but it’s also renewed a purpose in life he thought he’d lost after his wife died.

"I was just sat there doing not a lot of anything," Houghton explained.

"But I came down here and I've loved it from the very first minute. I can't wait, Tuesdays and Fridays is my week. It's really turned my life round."

Discussing the milestone year, Mike Green, Head of City in the Community added: "As we celebrate City in the Community’s 30th year, our health, education and inclusion projects are going from strength to strength and this season, we will work with 50,000 people in Manchester.

“Walking Football is a great example of how we are making a difference in Manchester. We are providing opportunities for local people to get some regular, informal exercise as well as looking after their general health and well-being.

"There is also a big emphasis on the social side of things to prevent isolation and loneliness.”

Almost 100 participants have signed up to take part in training twice a week and it’s developed into one of the most popular projects in City in the Community’s community football calendar.

As a result of its growing popularity, City in the Community have just set up a walking football team for women.

Find out more at mancity.com/community.

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