Grassroots Walking Football

What has the WFA done to support the development of grassroots Walking Football?

As the governing body for Walking Football in England, it is our duty to help develop the sport at all levels. With the majority of players coming into the sport for fun and fitness, this grassroots support is the cornerstone of everything we do.

“Our aims are to support grassroots Walking Football at all times. The sport gives players at the grassroots so much pleasure and tremendous health benefits. We like to recognise and celebrate the dedicated people who help to make grassroots Walking Football what it is”

Stuart Langworthy | Walking Football Grassroots Director

What we have done so far

Showcasing our commitment to grassroots Walking Football
  • Writing and running of a referee course – In England and Wales a total of 250 Club and Tournament referees have now been trained. We have also helped to train over 50 in countries overseas. Having a competent referee at club sessions as well as tournaments is vital in terms of the game being played correctly and safely. The more qualified referees there are at club sessions the safer and more consistent the game will become.
  • Development of a coaching course – The nature of Walking Football is such that at most clubs and session players just want to turn up, warm up and play – there is very little coaching that takes place, but we have responded to calls from this country and overseas to write, accredit and deliver a grassroots Walking Football Coaching Course.
  • New Club Toolkit – Written by WFA and sponsored by Pure – to help any new club or session with some sensible, easy to understand help and guidance.  This can be supported by willing, experienced  and helpful volunteers who will answer the call to help whenever possible – either virtually or in person.
  • LOTG – Written so that the game is non-contact, safe and simple, as demanded by our affiliated clubs.  Reviewed by referees and clubs each year, so very much owned by the Walking Football community.
  • Guide to Walking Football – As a follow-up to the Club Toolkit – written to support and inform any new players thinking of taking up the sport.  Again, produced and sponsored by Pure Retirement, this document has been very well received in the Walking Football community with many messages of thanks for this ‘helpful and informative’ publication.
  • Website – a new informative website with an up-to-date ‘find a club’ section, that gets over 3,000 hits a month
  • The National Cup – Played firstly in regions – this is the largest solely Walking Football competition in the country – now sponsored by P2U. In 2021 a record of over 240 clubs from all over the country have entered.
  • Newsletter – Keeping all clubs up to date with all that is happening in the Walking Football world – with club features, international news etc. This is the regular, go-to document for walking Football clubs.
  • Regional Teams – For the more able club players and acting as a gateway for players into the WFA England Squads, 5 Regional Teams have been formed at 3 age groups – these will play in the new National Super League – the Premier League for Walking Football in England – now sponsored by P2U. The plan is to get 3 regions and enable Regional Tournaments for all 3 Women’s age groups as well as Over 75s. Further development is to enable yet more players to take part in a two-tiered system – Premiership and Championship regional Teams
  • Supporting new sessions – WFA members have regularly supported new clubs and new sessions starting up in their area
  • Working with County FAs and local leagues – many examples around the country of where WFA players and officials work with local FA Leagues to help run their competitions smoothly
  • Dick Kerr Cup – supplying all the referees for this famous annual grassroots women-only competition
  • Other Leagues and Competitions – the East Midlands League, the South West Super Cup and just two examples of how the WFA wants to get more involved in local and regional grassroots leagues if they do not already exist.
  • Grass Roots Awards – To recognize and celebrate the suburb individual and group work that takes place day in day out across England.  Coach of the Year, Team and Club of the Year Awards were presented in the first year. These will be presented again at the end of 2021.
  • Health and Safety – The WFA have led the way with organisations to build awareness of health and safety issues – such as the Lion’s Club, Message in a Bottle and working with the providers of pitch-side defibrillators.
  • WFAi and Parkinsons – The WFA is proud to be supporting the development of Walking Football for Parkinson’s – developing appropriate training routines and supporting clubs to develop Parkinson’s specific sessions. Taking this development further and working with local GPs and Health Care providers to encourage more people to take up the game who are living with a variety of impairments, as we know that the physical and mental health and welfare benefits of playing the game can be enormous.
Find a club

Grassroots Walking Football Award

Each year will celebrate your achievements

Introduced in 2020, it was created to recognize and celebrate the superb individual and group work that takes place day in day out across England. We award the Coach of the Year and Club of the Year.

grassroots Walking Football

Grassroots Awards Winners 2021

Coach of the Year

Joint – Paul Wheatley (Guernsey) and Casey Lynchey (Bury)

Paul Wheatley – Guernsey WWC – Paul is quite simply the heart and soul of Guernsey Walking Football Club – he was one of the founder members and is involved in everything that goes on at the club.  He holds dear the virtues of inclusion and diversity and has set up sessions for less mobile, people with long term health conditions and recuperation sessions.  His energy and enthusiasm for the sport is boundless.

Casey Lynchey – Casey is such an inspiration to everyone at Bury AFC.  Bury has gone from starting with a few women having a kick about, to running a couple of recreational teams, to operating a huge women’s section representing women of all ages and abilities, with members joining from all over Greater Manchester. They now have over 200 registered players, aged from 16 to 60+ Including a successful and separate women’s Walking Football section soon to be entering 2 teams into the Northern Walking Football League.

Team of the Year

Eastleigh Over 65

Eastleigh Over 65s – The highlight of the year was the success of the club’s 65+ squad in the WFA National Cup, which was won in October. The road to winning that trophy is a long one. Eastleigh were 60+ winners in 2017 and made finals day in 2018 and 2019 so there was a determination for representation again in 2021. To reach finals day, the club played in 4 regional qualifiers scoring 10 goals, conceding only one.  Throughout finals day the team scored 7 goals, conceding only 1.  One of the keys to success has been an insistence at club sessions of a zero tolerance approach to running and physical contact with several having successfully passed the basic WF refereeing.

WFAi Team of the Year

Team Undefeatable

WFAi – Team of the Year – The judges decided that this would be a new category added each year from now on, thanks to the unexpected and strong nomination that follows.  Team Undefeatable – This ’Team’  started because of the Covid lockdown in 2020 but continued into 2021 due to the length of the pandemic.  12 people, with a variety of medical conditions, were chosen to meet ‘virtually’, on zoom, once a week to learn about Walking Football.  They would practice in their gardens or local parks, which would help them physically and mentally with several of them promoting Walking Football on TV, radio and social media in various forms over the UK.  They were strangers who became a team but also supportive friends.  Some lost family to Covid and for some their medical conditions became worse but they remained helping out each other.  They did many virtual walking challenges, e.g., John O’Groats to Land’s End, climbing Everest and virtually walking to each other’s homes all over the UK.  Quizzes on music and football and bingo were played online.  They also did an impressive 117,000 Keep-ups towards a national appeal for 7.1m keep-ups. Team Undefeatables eventually met in person in September 2021, for a game against a team inspired by this group – all of whom had Parkinson’s.  Walking football changed all their lives for the better.

Club of the Year

Garstang WFC and, Joint winners, Cheshunt WWFC and Northampton Town WWFC

Garstang WFC – Only formed in 2021. Garstang is a small rural town, with a strong footballing heritage. Many from Walking Football are now regulars at Garstang FC’s Riverside ground working on the gates or cheering on the players.   Saturday and Monday sessions see 50+ playing regularly and now, just 12 months on, the club has more than 60 registered players. From the outset the club was determined to be inclusive, and welcome anyone who wants to play and enjoy the game.  In 2021 the 50s had an amazing cup run making it all the way to the finals.  The 50s and 60s teams played many friendly matches and the plan is to establish an over 65s team so that the older players can also play games.  Garstang WFC has a strong bond with Northern Lights WFC, a Merseyside team made up of players with Parkinson’s.  Off the field, the club’s subs have supported several charities with donations topping £750 and the players have regular social events, including Pilates classes and inviting visiting teams for a bacon butty.

Northampton Town WWFC  – Formed in 2020, with a ‘Come and try it tonight’ attitude.  The players love it – finishing sessions sore from laughing and using muscles they had forgotten they had

The values espoused by the club are evident all through it. It is progressive with coaching skills introduced and an ever-growing membership and women encouraged to try out for international teams, with success. It is rare for a Wednesday night to go by without a new face. It is respectful, with never any dissent or bad behaviour. It has overcome Covid challenges and continues to grow. Above all it is inclusive. The ages range from 30s to 70s. This football club has such a wide range of ages, abilities and such a diverse group of ladies all at different stages of life.  Everyone is made to feel of value.  During the course of the year there have been several personal ups and downs on and off the field for many ladies, the support they receive instantly and at the appropriate level for their need is astonishing.

Cheshunt WWFC – October 2020 Cheshunt Walking Football Ladies was formed.  Following lockdown numbers started to grow – people needed an outlet.  In May 21, in their first friendly tournament, they even beat Arsenal.  Numbers grew and grew, with ladies coming from all over to play for us and be part of something very special.  They became double champions in the TVWF League, won the Spurs series, won in Corby, were runners up in over 40’s WFA National Cup and winners of the over 50’s.  Many of our woman have been selected for regional England teams.

Superb on-field achievements, but what people don’t see is how this club has had an impact off the pitch which could even outweighs any trophy won. Players go home absolutely buzzing – meeting new people and smiling again – what feeling.  Cheshunt has given so many a sense of belonging – being part of a team again as an older woman is incredible and has changed the lives of many –  the friends I made and the support received is priceless.

Coach of the Year

joint – Lach Geddes (Weston)  and Michael Adams (Watford)

Club of the Year

Boston United

Team of the Year

Pele’s Pearls

Women's Team of the Year

Birmingham WFC

Commended Teams of the year

Weston-Super-Mare and Blackburn Rovers