Tommy Charlton, brother of England legends Sir Bobby and Jack, has been handed the role of ambassador for the Walking Football Association.
The announcement was made at Chesterfield FC, where walking football was devised by the club’s Community Trust chief John Croot, who is a non-executive director of the WFA.
Commenting on his appointment, Tommy said: “I love walking football and I think if I can even persuade one chap to give it a go and increase his life by one day, that’s remarkable.”
Walking football has been credited with improving the physical and mental health of many people and Charlton has urged others to get involved in the rapidly growing sport. “It’s a fantastic way to remain active and make new friends so I’d thoroughly recommend it,” he said.
“I took it up when the Rotherham United Community Trust started walking football in my local leisure centre and I went and had a look. I’ve always played football whenever I could, so I joined in. It was wonderful and I’ve never stopped.”
Paul Carr, chief executive of the WFA, is delighted to have Tommy on board to help the association promote the sport. “He’s going to do a fantastic job with us because he’s very passionate about the sport,” said Carr.
“The Charlton name is magical as far as the media are concerned. The majority of the people playing walking football are not ex-professionals but by having a name that the media like helps get us a profile.”
There has been a huge rise in the amount of walking football clubs around the country, with the figure now standing at about 1,100. “The growth organically has been immense,” added Carr. “In the last few weeks, we’ve had some great exposure and the international side is one of the ways we can actually sell the story about walking football.”
Walking football is aimed at over 50s, with the very specific rules in place of no running and no contact. These are in place to ensure the game is played in the safest way possible, with a special consideration towards the ages of the players involved.