Not a happy “Rock” – Pauline’s experience (or non-experience) of Walking Football, in Spain.

We are always inspired by “older” women wanting to play football and with the FIFAWWC now over, we have found that there has been an increase in participation with the “missed generation” of women who couldn’t play when they were growing up.  Plenty of women are now enjoying running around a pitch and some are also now enjoying Walking Football, as this is becoming more popular across the UK.

Within the Crawley Old Girls, we have a number of women 50+ who play Walking Football, as well as enjoying the running.  They join up with other Clubs, where the majority of players are men, and are welcomed every week to play and train with them.

Unfortunately, not the same experience was afforded to another of our COGS, who was on holiday at her residence, in Spain.

Pauline Maddocks, known to us as “The Rock”, and who appears on FA marketing material, as an inspirational “older” woman playing football, had a different experience of Walking Football, while staying in Spain.  Pauline has been playing football with the COGS for 4 years and is an extremely competent defender (hence her “Rock” nickname).  Many have tried to get past her and failed!

We spoke to Pauline, after we saw a disgruntled post on our group, about her experience on her last visit to Spain…..

While staying at her Spanish residence, last February, Pauline enquired about joining in with the local Walking Football Club training.  However, she couldn’t attend in the end so when she returned to Spain, in May, she told Alan, who attends the training, that she would like to attend on the 3rd June.

The reply was “Hi Pauline, yes we’re there on Monday anytime from 9.  We have a good 20 minutes warm up, a few drills then a few games.  If you just want to come and have a look that’s fine either way”

A little bit excited at the prospect of being able to play her beloved football while on holiday, Pauline replied “Got my kit with me.  Well up for this.  See you there”

The excitement soon turned to surprise and shock when Pauline then received this text at 21.29 on Sunday 2nd June (the night before she was due to go along at 9am to join in).

“Hi Pauline, sorry it’s short notice but we’ll have to cancel tomorrow.  Apparently, a few of the guys aren’t happy about a woman turning up to play.  I thought we had agreed that it was ok but our Secretary just asked me to message you about it.  Sorry to have messed you about, obviously, I expect you’ll be upset about this, all I can do is apologise for the lateness for this message.  Regards, Alan”

To say Pauline was upset was an understatement.

On Monday 3rd June, in the afternoon, Pauline then spoke to Guy, who was the coach who said “What Alan said is not quite true.  It should have been me or the Chairman who got in touch with you.  The facilities at the place where we play are not wonderful and there is only one changing room and one toilet so you would not be able to have a shower or use the toilet. Also, the team wants to enter into tournaments and if we have visitors just turning up then we are unable to practice for these tournaments”. Although, their Facebook page does include the sentence “If you live in or visit the area, come and join us.”

Pauline intended on going and returning in her kit just like she does to every COGS’ session and then using her own shower at her house.   After this conversation, Pauline spoke to a local friend and was advised that the ground where they play has changing rooms and a changing room for officials.

Pauline also spoke to the local paper, the Euro Weekly News, after the incident, about her Old Girls’ World Cup adventures and appeared in it the week of the FIFA World Cup Final, so we can only hope that the Club read the piece and now realise that Pauline would have been an asset to them.

It’s a real shame this happened, as Pauline would have brought some fun and good football to the team, but, instead, the opportunity to go and play locally, while on holiday, is now not available to Pauline.    Their loss, we say!