A Hastings businessman has stepped up to sponsor the town’s walking football team he plays for with a new kit for the upcoming season.

Ali Yukselir – who runs a busy chip shop in Queen’s Road, Hastings – is fulfilling a lifelong ambition by putting some money into a club he is also playing for.

Yukselir is Kurdish and has lived in the UK for more than 25 years and is a talented striker who played professionally in the third tier of Turkish football.

He joined the Hastings 1066 Walking Football Club last year and holds the club record of 12 goals scored in one game.

But Yukselir is honoured to be able to sponsor the team.

He said: “ Fish and chips is my living but football is my life! I am pleased to provide the new kit for next season.

“When I came to Hastings I knew nobody – now I have good friends and we all play good football together.”

His chippy, Oh My Cod, is a former winner of the Observer’s chip shop of the year contest.

The business has also become an informal hub for the team, with several new players having being recruited over a bag of chips.

The club is an over 50s outfit which had been run under the auspices of Active Hastings for several years before it became an entity in its own right with affiliation to the Walking Football Association (WFA) last year.

Playing membership has grown through the pandemic and the club’s inaugural chairman, Phil Aspinall, has big plans for the club as it approaches its first annual meeting in March.

He said: “We had our kit sponsored for printing the club badges last year but now Ali has stepped in and bought the shirts and printing.

“ He is a valuable player in the team and as a local businessman is able to put something back into the community.

“Most of the lads get their fish and chips from him and as a result his business grows too.”

Obviously the Coronavirus restrictions had put a stop to all grassroots sports but the club is ready to resume training again from Monday, March 29.

If you interested in joining, the club have said any men over 50 and women over 40 are welcome to come along to the MUGA cage in Alexandra Park on Mondays at 6pm or Saturday mornings at 10am, to see whether it’s a sport they want to play.

Chairman Aspinall added: “ We play the same beautiful game – just a bit slower.

“We keep fit, we make new friends and we have fun with football. You can’t have a better combination.

“The lads are chomping at the bit to play again after this latest lockdown. We can play outdoors because we are an organised club which takes corona precautions.”

If you would like to find out more about the Hastings walking football team or would like to join, visit:www.hastingswalkingfootball.co.uk