It was six years ago when walking football was first introduced at the Tooting and Mitcham Sports Club.

Since then, the grassroots activity has become a hit with players and fans alike, but it wasn’t always this way.

That's when AFC Wimbledon got in touch.

"Most people assume that we’d be rivals with AFC given our locality, but we formed a fantastic partnership as we both genuinely appreciate just how important it is to encourage locals to lead an active lifestyle," club manager Jackie Watkins said.

"AFC were looking to launch a walking football team and we were able to provide the perfect place thanks to our fantastic facilities here.

"Our 3G pitch is ideal and the extra give from the surface helps those getting back into sport and the older players. The 3G absorbs a lot of the shock for joints and takes some of the strain off."

Now the club has a turn out of about 20 people every week.

But Ms Watkins said the sport is about much more than a bit of competition.

"I remember our opening few attempts during the first three months and we would have two or three people showing up," she said.

"It wasn’t looking good, but AFC and ourselves persevered to turn it all around.

"Isolation and loneliness are prevalent in our local area, especially with older men.

"Walking football gives people the chance to get out for some fresh air, exercise and enjoy spending time with others.

"It’s an hour out on the pitch and the same in our social area, where we have a bar."

Ms Watkins added that the tough times taught gave the strength, and now they are reaping the benefits.

"Those early cold evenings with two or three players meant it would have been easy to drop it, but we didn’t and we’re so grateful to AFC for the help," she added.

"Now we’re in a solid position to keep giving back to our local community and really make an impact in physical and mental happiness."