If you’ve been watching the World Cup but thought your football days were behind you, this could get you back in the game.
In walking football, there’s no running, kicking the ball above shoulder height or tackling, making it one of the fastest growing sports for older people in the UK with over 800 clubs – and it’s catching on here too, according to the ABC.
Ian Stewart kick-started a team on Sydney’s northern beaches that now has over 20 members aged in their 50s, 60s and 70s including 69-year-old Philip Taylor. He has played football since he was five and embraces the new concept.
“It means we can all play and it’s quite enjoyable and much better than sitting in a house doing nothing,” he said.
“What I missed about soccer was the banter and the camaraderie and we have all that back now, it’s a good group of friends.”
Fitness and social connection in one
Their team plays three 15- to 20-minute games with breaks in the middle – and health is no obstacle.
“There’s a quadruple bypass, we’ve got a triple bypass, two hip replacements, stents, you name it,” Mr Stewart says.
And the experts agree, saying sports such as this can actually help prevent chronic illness and injuries such as falls.
“In walking football you’re stopping, you’re starting, you’re changing directions, you’re turning, you’re moving, you’re placing your weight differently, which is really great for your mobility,” Dr Taylor Harrison, owner and director of Active Seniors Health Centre, said.
It’s not just the physical side though. Social sports are one of the best ways to meet new people and have a laugh – which is essential for good mental health.
We’d love to see more of these kind of sports. Netball NSW is already developing a similar program. Let’s see some funding from the states and Government for more.