Our reporter Mark Quinn catches up with Alex West from the Manchester FA to find out more about local walking football.
Age has no barriers in football especially when it comes to walking football. If you’re in your fifties, sixties, seventies or above then walking football could be top of your league – even if you know nothing about football or, like me, love the game but can’t run!
Walking football was created officially in 2011 by a community trust attached to Chesterfield Football Club.
Since 2011, walking football has massively grown in popularity and is played all over the United Kingdom.
I asked Alex how it all got started.
He said: “I believe the idea came about through a project specifically aimed at engaging the older population of Chesterfield in football.”
Walking football sessions don’t have structured league tables, it’s more of recreational football, getting fit and having fun.
It’s very popular across the country and in Manchester there are dozens of walking football sessions either created by community champions through The FA’s ‘Just Play’ programme or alternatively, created and managed by community trusts of football clubs.
Alex added: “A good example of this would be the work of City in the Community (Manchester City’s community trust) who run two very well-attended walking football sessions per week at the tennis and football centre close to the Etihad stadium.”
Walking football is a great way to exercise and get more physically active and it can help with loneliness and you could make new friends. Officially, walking football players should be over the age of 50 years old.
The Walking Football Association have categories at over 50, over 60 and over 70 years old. However, any age can play walking football; many people returning from serious injury prefer walking football due to the lack of contact.
You don’t need any understanding of the rules of football because a lot of sessions are run by FA qualified coaches and they can help and support your learning and development throughout the game. The biggest thing is to feel comfortable in getting involved.
Alex mentioned that walking football is a great social tool throughout communities across Greater Manchester and that the Manchester FA will continue supporting the current sessions across Greater Manchester and hope to grow at least two new sessions in 2023 through our current football partnership with Age UK.
To find your local sessions you can visit their page and enter your details.
If you’re struggling to find a session contact your local county FA (Manchester FA) Alex West (FDO) Diversity and Inclusion – [email protected]
I tackled Alex with a few questions on walking football and in my eyes he’s walked off the field with the man of the match award! Thank you Alex West.
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