DID YOU THINK IT WAS ALL OVER? WELL IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE…….
Guys who played football in their teens, twenties and beyond who loved being involved in the game but gave in to the inevitable of creaking joints and dodgy knees now have a simple and enjoyable way back into the game they love. It is called Walking football.
What is Walking football?
It was devised around 6 years ago aimed at men of 50 or over who wished to get back to kicking around a football at a pace better suited to their age and levels of fitness. The rules are simple. The teams usually comprise 6 players with games being played on a half size football pitch. It can be played indoors and in the open air. So long as the players do not run and the ball remains below head height, you are off and “running” with a game of walking football.
Expansion of the game has been rapid with there now being over 400 venues nationally where walking football is organised. And all the differing levels of fitness and ability are catered for. Ex-professionals, semi-professionals and those who have played football to a decent level in the past are able to take part in competitive matches. The vast majority of people would have enjoyed playing park football or just “having a kick around” and the games organised for them are less strenuous and competitive affairs.
Why take up Walking Football?
There are so many good reasons to do so. For example it can re-introduce our great national game to those who believe their playing days are in the past. It is an immensely social activity where men in their more senior years can again enjoy the camaraderie of the most popular of group sporting activities. And of course it should not be ignored that it can slowly improve fitness and flexibility both of which are so easily lost once inactivity sets in.
This last point should not be overlooked. It is now clearly understood that physically active men over 50 have a 20-30% reduced risk of premature death and a 50% less chance of developing a chronic disease. But by the age of 55, only around a third of men say that they take the recommended half-hour of strenuous exercise five times a week. Walking football is proving to be a popular and hugely enjoyable way to get back into taking exercise and by doing so increasing their ability to stave of health problems.
How will the WFC Trust Walking Football operate?
As a senior semi-professional club based in the area Wealdstone will be able to provide the trust with the type of coaching and expertise needed to successfully run this type of activity. “Rolling Stones Gather No Moss” will run hour long evening walking football sessions on the 3G surface at the Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex. Initially the sessions will run for ten weeks with the intention of continuing beyond that period and expanding to other locations. The sessions will include warm ups, skills training, games and warm downs under the guidance of qualified Football Association coaches.
Is there a an age cut off point?
No. The only stipulation is a minimum participation age of 50. Fitness levels vary enormously and there is no reason to believe that some men in their 60s are not more than capable of holding their own on the walking football pitch with their 50 year old colleagues. However, if there is sufficient interest being shown in playing the game by those over 60 years of age, separate sessions may be subsequently set up.
Is there a skills barrier to playing walking football?
Most certainly not. It is a fun activity that caters for all ability levels. The coaches in charge of the sessions will be able to judge how they should run in order for all those taking part to be able to glean maximum enjoyment and fulfilment.
When does it start?
The first “Rolling Stones Gather No Moss” Walking football session will take place at the Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Centre at 20.00 hours every Wednesday from July 8th.
What is the WFC Foundation Trust?
The Football Conference, of which Wealdstone FC is a member, has established a Trust which provides funds for its member clubs to set up their own charitable arms, or Trusts, in order to organise and run schemes that might benefit their local communities.
One of the schemes Wealdstone FC Foundation Trust will be running is walking football for men over-50 who are Ruislip and Hillingdon residents, the community in which the football club is located – although those not local residents won’t be turned away!.
What is Wealdstone Football Club?
Wealdstone is a long established senior non-league football club currently competing in the Football Conference Southern Division. For much of its existence the club was based in Harrow, but following the sale of its ground in 1991 it became nomadic for a time until taking over the site in Grosvenor Vale from the sadly disbanded Ruislip Manor FC. The club has a long and proud history including winners of various league championships as well as two victorious appearances in Wembley Cup Finals. Famous footballing names have started their illustrious careers with Wealdstone, most notably ex-England captain Stuart Pearce and ex-Wales skipper (and now more famous as a film actor), Vinnie Jones.
The club has now firmly put down its roots in Ruislip involving itself with women’s and youth team football with there being 34 youth teams competing under the Wealdstone FC banner. Its sister organisation, the Ruislip Social Club, has also formed links with the local community by providing activities and entertainment on site.