A LEAGUE in Keighley is hoping to recruit more older players by promoting the health benefits of playing soccer.

The boss of the Leisure Leagues which runs 6-a-side matches at Marley Activities Centre says he wants to get Keighley people fit during 2019.

James Coe has spoken following the publication of a report by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

He said the report – which compared more than 70 studies carried out over the past 10 years – revealed that small-sided football was the healthiest sport.

He said: “The conclusions are that playing football for 15 weeks – around the length of a Leisure Leagues season – substantially reduces the risk of heart and lung disease, as well as lessening the chances of diabetes and leading to a weight loss of 5lbs on average.

“The trials also found that these football games had more of a positive effect on the participants than sports like swimming or cycling.

“All this is good news to players who are joining the leagues in Keighley at Marley Activities Centre on Wednesday evenings.”

Mr Coe said the UK government’s own figures suggested the age group most likely to be overweight or obese was 55-64, and that worldwide at least 2.8 million people died each year as a result of being overweight or obese.

He added: “We are very proud of the community aspect to our leagues. Sport brings people together in a way that nothing else does.

“We are thrilled that in so many places around the world our leagues are a real focal point for friendships to both develop and flourish. It has long been our belief that the health benefits were also huge, and these studies prove it.”

Mr Coe said the studies showed that health benefits were seen no matter the age or gender of the participants, meaning that football was the most universally beneficial.

He added: “We have seen an increase in women’s and veterans’ teams in the last 12 months, which makes such news even more gratifying.”

“All too often a game of a 6-a-side is seen as something that people do before going to the pub, but these studies do show that those days are increasingly over.”

Visit leisureleagues.net for further information about the Keighley league.

Leisure Leagues is a long-established organiser of five-a-side and six-a-side football leagues across the UK, with more than 150,000 players and over 1,000 leagues.

The company also operates leagues in the Republic of Ireland and America.