What has the WFA done to support the development of Walking Football at grassroots level?
As the governing body for Walking Football in England, it is our duty to help develop the sport at all levels. The majority of people play Walking Football at grassroots level for fun and fitness. This grassroots support is, therefore, the cornerstone of everything we do.
“Our aims are to support grassroots Walking Football at all times. The sport gives players so much pleasure and tremendous health benefits. We like to recognise, support and celebrate the people who help Walking Football to take place at clubs across the country – week in, week out ” Stuart Langworthy, Director for Grass Roots
What we have done so far
Showcasing our commitment to Walking Football at all levels
Writing and running of a referee course
In England and Wales, over 300 Club and Tournament referees have now qualified from the WFA course. We have also helped to train over 50 in countries overseas. Having a competent referee at club sessions and at tournaments is vital for the game to be 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 want to turn up, warm up and play. There is very little coaching that takes place. But, we have now written, accredited and delivered a grassroots Walking Football Coach Education Course. This is as a result of requests from English and many overseas clubs
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. Willing, experienced and helpful volunteers are also available to support new clubs – either on-line or in person.
Written so that the game is non-contact, safe and simple, as demanded by our affiliated clubs. These are reviewed and updated 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. This is available as a free link on the website. The ‘Guide’ has been very well received with many messages of thanks for this ‘helpful and informative’ publication. Our thanks, again to Pure Retirement who produced and sponsored this work.
A new informative website with an up-to-date ‘find a club’ section, that gets over 3,000 hits a month. The number of clubs affiliating to the WFA is growing which means the ‘find a club’ section is more accurate.
In 2022 the WFA was able to offer personal accident insurance for the first time to its members. This was very well received and represented very good value. The scheme will only grow from now on.
The National Cup
The early rounds take place in regions – this is the largest Walking Football competition in the country. Our thanks to our sponsor P2U. In 2022 a record of over 250 clubs from all over the country have entered.
This publication helps to keep clubs and players 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.
There are Regional Teams for men and women to help bridge the gap between club football and the national teams. The Regional Teams play in the National Super League – the Premier League for Walking Football in England – sponsored by P2U. The plan is to have 2 tiers in each region to enable even more players to take part at a suitable level.
Supporting new sessions
WFA members have supported new clubs and new sessions starting up in their area
Working with County FAs and local leagues
There are many examples from around the country where WFA players and officials work with local FA Leagues to help run competitions
Dick Kerr Cup
The WFA supplied all the referees for this famous, annual grassroots, women-only competition in 2019
Other Leagues and Competitions
The WFA now runs several leagues and competitions all over England. The East Midlands League. The North West League. The South Coast 70s League. Several South West Competitions. These are some examples and the WFA is keen be more involved in local and regional grassroots leagues and competitions – if they do not already exist.
Grassroots Walking Football Awards
To recognise and celebrate the suburb individual and group work that takes place each day in our sport across England. These will be awarded for the third time at the end of 2022 and will include this year, Impairment and International Walking Football.
Health and Safety
The WFA have led the way with organisations to build awareness of health and safety issues. The Lion’s Club, Message in a Bottle and working with the providers of pitch-side defibrillators are 2 examples.
WFAi and Parkinson’s
The WFA is proud to be supporting the development of Walking Football for Parkinson’s. We have developed appropriate training routines and supported clubs to develop sessions. We are working with local GPs and Health Care providers to encourage more people living with various health conditions to take up the game. We know that the physical and mental health and welfare benefits of playing the game can be enormous. We have worked with Sport Parkinson’s to stage the first ever National Cup for People with Parkinson’s in 2022. This will be bigger and better in 2023 with a predicted 50% increase in participation. We now have supported more than 15 Impairment Walking Football sessions. We are also working with England Transplant Walking Football and have recently started ‘Kicking Cancer’, which is Walking Football for people living with cancer.
The WFA is proud to have given out well over £2K from our sponsorship with KP. This has been to support new sessions (mainly women and impairment) – Over 15 new sessions have, so far, supported by WFA grants.
The WFA received Bronze Awards in 2021 and 2022 for our work on Inclusion and Diversity at the Sports Business Awards. We were up against professional organisations with a budget for this area – an achievement of which we are very proud.