Walking football: low-impact exercise with high-level socialising! - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views
Community Sport

Photos: Supplied.


Every Wednesday evening at 7:00pm, a group of mums, dads, and grandparents gather at Redlands United Football Club fields in Cleveland for a kick of the round ball.

Spectators will easily identify what they see as a version of football or soccer played on a small field. But there is no running or tackling allowed, and the ball cannot go over head high. It’s called “walking football”, and
it’s one of the fastest-growing team sports in the world (for older folk).

Although the term evokes images such as sedentary, slow-moving, old and inactive, the reality is quite different. Sweating, puffing and heavy breathing are the norm.

Walking football was introduced some years ago in the UK to coax older adults who may have mobility issues or health concerns to have a kick. It allows individuals to enjoy the game, stay active, and socialise in a more suitable, low-impact environment. The standard football/soccer rules have been modified to ensure a high level of safety, which helps reduce the risk of injuries and ensures that people of varying fitness levels can participate. Gauging from the giggles and laughter coming from participants at Redland, they all obviously find the game very enjoyable.

“I’m hooked,” says Robyn Hodges. Robyn has been playing walking football here in Cleveland for a few months and will gladly tell you its advantages.

“I love the game. It’s made me get off the couch and start moving. You don’t even know you are exercising. The last time I played football, I had a few niggling injuries and felt it was time to stop playing. Then, late last year, I heard about walking football, so I came along to have a peek. It didn’t take much to coax me in for a kick, and the rest is history. I reckon many people like myself would quickly get to love the game like I did. I now really look forward to Wednesday nights – the football, the exercise and the lovely people you meet.”

Almost 12 months ago, an offer to provide a venue for walking football for the 50+ age group (mainly parents) came from Carina Crockford, general manager of Redlands United Football Club. Seasoned walking footballers Robbie Duncanson and Siggy Nowak decided to start up a walking football session in Cleveland. Football Queensland came to the party through Alan Templeton, Walking Football Development Officer, who provided balls, field markers, bibs, and pop-up goals. Invitations and flyers were sent around the town, and gradually, more and more participants turned up. Walking football is now a regular feature on a Wednesday night.

Siggy, captain of Australia’s Walking Football Over 70s representative team, is passionate about the game. “Our participants here in Cleveland come from all walks of life. Some have not played football since their youth, while others have transitioned to the game after finishing with veterans football or futsal,” says Siggy.

“We have a number of ladies playing at our sessions, and they are certainly mixing it with the gents and having fun. The ages range from 50 to 75, and the skill levels vary, but we are able to cater to anyone. The game promotes physical activity, mental wellbeing, and community inclusion for older individuals.”

“The whole idea behind the sport is to provide an avenue for exercise using a ball. The rules are quite simple, and they provide a high level of safety because we have participants with health issues, physical disabilities and different skill levels.”

Siggy uses a simple description: “Walking football is a non-contact sport where the ball does all the running.”

The walking football session in Cleveland is replicated in many venues around Brisbane, Queensland and Australia. There are even competitive regional and state tournaments held around Australia and international competitions in Europe and Asia.

Carina is very upbeat about the game. “Football never stops in Redlands. Juniors, seniors, over 45s, veterans, futsal, and now walking football. We cater to every age group.”

“Any member of the community can come along and have a kick on the Wednesday night. It’s free, it’s enjoyable and you will definitely meet lots of like-minded people. We welcome you all.”

If you want to have a go, just turn up on a Wednesday evening at 7:00pm. Look out for a happy group having a leisurely kick around on a small field marked out at the Redland United Football Club grounds at 76 Waterloo Street Cleveland.

For inquiries, contact Carina Crockford at 0410 097 405.

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