Blood sugar tests in Olhão and Tavira

Roy Clark, a retired police officer and keen walking footballer who has type 1 diabetes, is spearheading a campaign by East Algarve Walking Football (EAWF) to raise funds for diabetes causes and, in the process, ensure that players and officials are aware of the dangers of diabetes and its impact on family and friends.

Almost a quarter of the world’s population, up from 14% last year, will be obese in less than 30 years, according to recent research. One in eight people, rather than today’s one in 11, are also expected to develop type 2 diabetes, the research adds. People with type 2 diabetes have an average life expectancy of just 55 years due to being at a much higher risk of heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease.

For the next few months, EAWF will be raising funds and awareness in respect of diabetes. The main differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes are: people with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, which regulates glucose levels, for which there is no cure so insulin must be regularly administered. Those with type 2 diabetes have a serious condition where the insulin produced by the pancreas does not work properly, or the pancreas cannot make enough insulin. More importantly, type 2 diabetes can be controlled and even reversed with diet and exercise, which is why walking football’s ethos of “fitness, fun and friendship” can raise awareness and help to support those with type 2 diabetes.

Walking football is a valuable tool in fighting and reversing this chronic illness. As Kate Palmer, a recent recruit to walking football, said recently: “I am type 1 and enjoy WF. It took a while to get my blood sugars right but they are pretty good now, and I am reducing insulin instead of eating more carbs. It is great fun and the exercise is brilliant. I love that you are raising awareness of diabetes and the benefits of exercise. I’m 69 and have been type 1 for 36 years.

I feel so much better thanks to WF.”

To help kick-start this campaign, healthcare professionals from Algarve Health and Social Care will be on hand to carry out simple finger-prick blood tests at walking football sessions at the José Arcanjo Stadium, Olhão (behind McDonalds on the EN125) on Tuesday, October 8 and Thursday, October 10 from 9.30am to 11.30am, and at the astro-turf pitch adjoining the Dr. Eduardo Mansinho Sports Hall, Av. Zeca Afonso, Tavira on Wednesday, October 9 and Friday, October 11 from 9.30am to 11.30am.

There are players who already have diabetes and others who have close family members with diabetes, who will be on hand and happy to discuss their own experiences, how this impacts on their life and, perhaps more importantly, explain and assist with how it is dealt with in the UK and what you need to do to be provided with similar healthcare in Portugal.

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Photo: Roy Clark, 60, who has had type 1 diabetes for 31 years, wearing his medical alert bracelet