Walking Football is a relatively ‘young’ format of the game, having only been introduced in 2011 and is has developed rapidly over the last few years, seeing several people take part, from weekly recreational sessions, to competitive games as part of the Thames Valley Walking Football League.
Recently, Steve Shiel, (Slough Town Walking Football Club & Secretary, Republic of Ireland Walking Football Association, ROIWFA) carried out a survey with local players to further highlight the benefits of Walking Football to those who take part. The survey results can be downloaded here.
Steve explained how he had surveyed several players from teams and sessions in the local area, as well as players from the Irish team, which he plays for, garnering over 100 responses, offering a good sample of Walking Footballers. Most of the players surveyed, have been playing for more than a year, with more than half for at least three years.
Earlier this month, Berks & Bucks FA, Football Development Officer, Alex Pratt, visited Arbour Park in Slough to observe a session (Wednesday mornings 11am-12pm) and catch up with players in attendance to find out more about their survey responses and how Walking Football has impacted their lives.
Below, participants, Peter and Paul, shared their experiences of Walking Football with Alex:
The oldest player at the session, Peter has played football throughout his life, most recently vets football. At the age of 78 he discovered the opportunity to get back involved with Football via Walking Football, and has been involved ever since. Living alone, it was difficult during lockdown, not having this opportunity, and he joked his highlight became going to the supermarket!
Peter commented how initially, he struggled with falling over constantly, but has since seen an improvement in his balance, and resting heart rate. He also said he uses this as a fitness exercise, and doesn’t like to stand still! He also mentioned how he would usually be an ‘armchair footballer’ and feels less guilty doing so, for the rest of the day after attending the session!
"Always played football in my youth, training with two professional clubs in London. Saw a walking football video last year, and looked on the FA website to find a local club. Emailed Steve at Slough WFC to come and have a go. I was made to feel very welcome, but advised to take it steady and warm up properly to avoid any unnecessary initial fitness/health problems.
"The feeling of playing in a team scoring goals & the inclusion into the over 60 s league squad putting the Team kit on brings back all the brilliant memories and has made such a positive impact with the increased social / team bonding aspect, physical fitness and mental wellbeing. It gives you a great buzz to even tell people of a similar age & younger, of being able to still participate and compete in your later years. Many do not realise how well the sport is so advanced with organised leagues etc. I love it."
Whether you are looking to get back into the game, after time away, or just looking for a new method of exercise, the benefits to both mental and physical health have been demonstrated, and Walking Football might be the game for you.
To find your local walking football session, follow our page here.
If you take part in a walking football session, we don’t yet have listed, please get in touch with Alex Pratt via email.