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80 year old plays for Manchester City!

September 2016

community orchard

Yes, it has started. After a very short break that went in a blink of an eye, the football season is upon us again.

Love it or hate it, football is a massive part of British life and very much part of our heritage.

Thousands of men – and more recently women too -  take to the pitches every winter to kick balls around and score goals. For many, it is a way of life and can be more important than work and sometimes even the family!

So for some it can be life wrenching when they find that as they age, being able to play the traditional game is simply not possible.

Come in Walking Football!!  This is a great new idea aimed at keeping people over the age of 50 involved in the game, and it is perfect for anyone with a lack of mobility or other problems that prevents them from running around.


Walking Football is as it says, a game of football  at a slower pace where everyone walks.

The idea was devised five years ago by Chesterfield FootBall Club Community Trust and is now becoming a national craze.

The game is based on the rules of association football, but there are key differences. No running is allowed – if a player runs, then they automatically concede a free kick to the other side. The ball must never be kicked above hip height and there are a few other variations.  Traditionally walking football was set up without any goalkeepers, but today some clubs do use goalkeepers. Also the size of the pitch can vary and when played indoors, a size 4 futsal ball is used instead of the traditional football.

The sport really took offer two years ago when Barclays Bank put on a tv advert featuring walking football. Since then more clubs have been formed and now there is even a Walking Football United, providing up to date information on the game’s expansion and development.  They are even running national tournaments, with more festivals and individual tournaments starting in the next few months. There is now also a championship 60+ side being formed and other developments as the sport expands across the UK.

 The good thing about playing football, whatever the variation, is that it offers great health benefits. Walking football can offer a really pleasurable way to get good exercise without feeling you are exercises…research has shown that older people who play have more muscle, harder bones, better cardiovascular systems and more jumping height and strength. They also appear to have lower heart rates and glood pressure, less fat and better oxygen absorption and leg bones have more mineral content. For ladies, playing football can also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
There are of course non-physical benefits as well; football demands strategic thinking and being part of a team offers a sense of belonging and well being that is so important as we grow older.

Even top club Manchester City have joined in on the craze, but setting up a new team to encourage local older people to take up Walking Football for fitness. The team currently comprises players aged between 50 and 83, and they train once a week by professional coaches at the Premier League side’s Etihad complex.

To join in, you don’t have to have played the game before, or even know the rules!

Find out more about the game plus details of your nearest Walking Football Club here.


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