Walking Football has been making its way (albeit slowly) towards becoming a huge sport in Northern Ireland over the past three years. Originating in England in 2012, the sport was born out of a local football club receiving a grant to work with senior players. It became apparent that both the pace and potential risk of injury were the main barriers for older players enjoying the beautiful game. Six years later and there are over 1000 clubs and 30,000 members in England alone; an impressive number for such a young sport.
What’s the difference?
The predominant difference between walking football and regular football is quite obviously, the pace. Instead of running, players must walk briskly allowing the game to be low impact and non contact. Teams consist of 5 or 6 players and the game can be played both inside and out.
In addition to regular football fouls, walking football also penalises players for other behavior. Blue cards, which result in two minutes in the sin bin, are issued if a player commits 3 infringements. An infringement could be running, foul play, heading the ball, or exceeding the height restriction on the ball. After returning from the sin bin if another blue card is issued a red card will be shown and the player will be sent off.
Walking football helps with finding fitness, having fun and making friends both on and off the pitch. As with every sport, participation can provide both physical and mental health benefits such as improving blood pressure, balance, strength, reaction time, and stamina. It can also reduce stress, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes, and lower cholesterol. Alongside the health benefits it could simply be an opportunity to revisit a sport you have always loved.
Current Situation in Northern Ireland (01/10/2018)
There are currently independent governing bodies for walking football in England, Scotland and Wales. However, Northern Ireland does not currently have one. The IFA are in the process of setting up an independent body to support and promote the sport.
Here at MaleMenu we have collated all the information on current walking football groups throughout Northern Ireland. Please email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to forward this information on to you.
Are you currently playing in a walking football team? Start the conversation on our forum to give advice, share your experiences, or promote your own club.