Our Team North Yorkshire campaign continues to celebrate the difference volunteers are making across the county.

This month we focus on grassroots sport, which as well as getting people moving is helping to tackle loneliness and supporting good mental health.

For people who may have fallen away from competitive sports through age or injury, it can be hard to keep those social connections that many of us take for granted, but an increasing number of groups are welcoming older players with a variety of teams offering walking rugby and over-35s football.

Steve Mason, 50, is one of the founding members of the Malton Old Boys Football Club.

The team meets each Thursday at Malton Sports Centre to train and generally spend an hour forgetting life beyond the boundaries of the pitch.

Steve said: “It’s taken four years to get going, but now we have 33 players.”

To play in the competitive matches you have to be over 35, but all are welcome at training: “We have all ages training on a Thursday when everyone is welcome to come along. We have one guy who is 60 and just plays in charity games.

“There is a guy on one of the York teams who is 78. He was starting to struggle, but he’s just had a new knee and he’s never been better.

“If it wasn’t for football I’d just be sitting at home doing nothing.

“I appreciate just being able to get out and play. It’s good to get out and run around the football pitch. It’s a very good confidence builder.”

Steve said the best thing is the banter, closely followed by the team ethic.

He said: “I work on my own, I’m just a workaholic, but it keeps you connected with the community.

“When you play, you forget work, you forget any other issues. You’re just spending time with a group of other like-minded people doing like-minded things.

Gary Adamson, 37, moved to Malton in September last year after spending 21 years in the Military.

His final posting, as a Warrant Officer Second Class communications specialist at Leconfield, has left him in a position to finally put down roots.

He had played football in the UK world master games and when he moved looked for a football team to help make friends.

He said: “The kids have lived in seven houses in ten years and we’ve not been able to establish ourselves.”

Gary’s wife, Laura, has taken a position as a teaching assistant at Norton Primary school and the couple's two children, Sophia, 10, and Lleyton, seven, are settling into the area.

Gary said: “The team have been very welcoming and the lads are brilliant. It has given a sense of community for the kids and Laura as well.

“It’s the little things, if I’m honest, there’s always someone to turn to.

“Steve and the team have been amazing. If anyone is thinking of getting involved, they 100 per cent should come down.

“Everybody is welcome. It gets you out of the house and it’s a great way to meet up, get some exercise and have some fun.”

Kristian D’Rosario works as an operations manager at a transport company. He played football professionally in Spain and Gibraltar before a series of niggling injuries forced him to retire.

Kristian began looking for a way to get back into football after his six-year-old daughter, Darcy, passed away after a period of ill health.

He said: “Since I moved back, it’s not been about playing competitively, it’s been about looking for enjoyment.

“It’s about showing up and having a kick about and having a laugh and taking your mind off things. It was all I needed at that time, to take my mind off reality.

“It was great to be able to be open and speak a bit. I didn’t have to speak about Darcy. Sometimes you just need conversation to get by.

“It’s an outlet, you don’t need to have ability, you don’t have to be good at football. It’s somewhere to go and vent and take time away from reality. Just allocate that hour or so to get away and escape.”

Danny O’Dwyer, 36, lives just 200 yards from where the team trains. A building services manager for the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Danny spent a lot of years from the age of 16 or 17 playing every weekend.

He said: “I had two children and I stopped playing to spend time with them, which was a mistake. I had no outlet for my mental health and I lost confidence, I had nothing to do.

“I didn’t know anybody when I moved here in January 2020, lockdown hit when I had only played three games for the team.

“Fortunately, everybody got involved with the Facebook group and we were able to get away from everyday life.

“I looked forward to getting back. I’m still going up and playing, it clears my head.

“I was probably one of the younger guys when I joined, but there is a good all-round group of ages at training, even my stepson, who is 21, comes along when he can’t get a game.

“There is plenty to gain, I’ve lost weight and gained confidence.

“If anyone is thinking of joining I’d say if it is what you love, never stop. I regret not making that time for myself.

“As soon as I come home I’m in a good place to spend quality time with my family because I’m in a good place mentally.”

Steve added: “If you’d like to get involved, come along to Malton Sports Centre on a Thursday night or find us on Facebook and if any other teams want to look us up, we’re always on for a game!”

Danny O’Dwyer, 36, lives just 200 yards from where the team trains. A building services manager for the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Danny spent a lot of years from the age of 16 or 17 playing every weekend.

He said: “I had two children and I stopped playing to spend time with them, which was a mistake. I had no outlet for my mental health and I lost confidence, I had nothing to do.

“I didn’t know anybody when I moved here in January 2020, lockdown hit when I had only played three games for the team.

“Fortunately, everybody got involved with the Facebook group and we were able to get away from everyday life.

“I looked forward to getting back. I’m still going up and playing, it clears my head.

“I was probably one of the younger guys when I joined, but there is a good all-round group of ages at training, even my stepson, who is 21, comes along when he can’t get a game.

“There is plenty to gain, I’ve lost weight and gained confidence.

“If anyone is thinking of joining I’d say if it is what you love, never stop. I regret not making that time for myself.

“As soon as I come home I’m in a good place to spend quality time with my family because I’m in a good place mentally.”

Steve added: “If you’d like to get involved, come along to Malton Sports Centre on a Thursday night or find us on Facebook and if any other teams want to look us up, we’re always on for a game!”