“The practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.”
Walking football is a very inclusive sport – excellent for both physical and mental health and well-being with the ‘no running’ rule being a great leveller.
Most Walking Football clubs run mixed sessions in terms of age, ability and gender. However, the number of ‘women only’ sessions is growing quickly. The Dick Kerr Cup has been running for a number of years and was the first ‘women only’ Walking Football competition.
Now, the WFA runs England Women’s Teams at Over 40. 50 and 60 and, in 2021, will hold the first Women’s National Cup and plans to run a Woman’s National League for Regional teams.
There are a growing number of clubs running disability and recuperation Walking Football sessions, with social prescription happening more often. Clubs such as Birmingham WFC, Abbeymead Rovers in Gloucester and Guernsey Walking Football, to name but 3, have led the way in this area.
Independent to his role as England Over 60s Manager, Stuart Langworthy was asked to lead the We Are Undefeatable Virtual Walking Football Team – this was a 10 week programme aimed at engaging a group of 12 people, all living with long term health conditions.
They were sent weekly video demonstrations of Walking Football training drills, took part in weekly competitions and a Keepie-Uppie Challenge.
All members of the group made significant progress, provided a great support network for each other, and they all had great fun and made new friendships.
This was a tremendously successful pilot scheme and proved that it is possible to be part of a Walking Football team whilst physically apart. It also showed the value in joining together a group of like-minded individuals who could provide each other with the support and motivation to get active in a way that works for them.
The 12 week plan can be found on the We Are Undefeatable website
A number of WFA England players met up with some of the Team Undefeatable team members to inspire and encourage them. Several spin-offs of this extremely successful campaign are in planning – as of December 2020. The We Are Undefeatable campaign is supported by Sport England and 15 other charities.
Birmingham Walking Football Club
Accessible sessions for those recovering from illness and injury in the West Midlands. The very essence of Walking Football is accessibility, but even the most adaptive sessions can still be too much for those less mobile or recovering from illness and injury.
Continue your rehabilitation and play alongside those best suited to your own circumstances with specially-designed Walking Football sessions organised by Birmingham Walking FC.
Sessions are open to players of all ages and genders and include a comfortable warm up and cool down either side of a short match. Sessions are also followed by drinks and refreshments in the clubhouse. Session each week include
- Less mobile x 2
- Ladies x 2 (beginners and advanced)
- Over 40’s x 3
- Over 50’s x 4
- Over 60’s x 5
- Over 65’s x 2
- Over 70’s x 1
- Fitness/WF Rehab x 1
- WF Drills session x 1
- 3 Touch x 1
Abbeymead Rovers Walking Football
The club applied for and received a ‘Grow The Game’ Grant from the FA for Disability Walking Football. A weekly session has been running for 2 years now – members are mainly from Care Homes so far although this is planned to be extended to include a recuperation and social prescription group.
Other players living with long term health conditions are welcomed into the regular sessions – eg a 35 year old with a heart condition who cannot play contact football and a stroke recoveree, a 32 year old with a heart condition who cannot play contact football and footballers trying to regain fitness after injury.
Guernsey Walking Football
September 2020 saw the start of a “Return to a better Health action programme” at GWF.
Links have been made with various Health Professionals on island, signposting opportunities to players and new members who have gone through a period of not so good health, various medical procedures and some from isolation. The activity programme is similar to the kind of coaching we would deliver in mainstream youth football, adding in the various conditions that Walking Football rules command.
We are conscious of muscle wastage during a period of inactivity, or through long term joint and muscle pain. Our programme has been worked through with the help of sports professionals and developed to suit our player base. The group varies in age and gender from 22yrs to 79yrs our concentration has been on fundamental movement skills, engaging with players to develop a more active lifestyle programme similar to when we were growing up through school physical education programs. One other key area is meeting up in groups and rekindling and developing those friendships again.
Female 21 – Allergy-exertion returning to physical activity after layoff.(will play mainstream football in time)
Female 41 – ACL reconstruction returning to activity.( Ex Island player)
Female 63 – Returning to activity – non footballer
Male 79 – Injured arm returning to activity
Male 68 – Diabetic type 1 (wears insulin pump) returning after eye surgery
Male 68 – High blood pressure 2 stents fitted returning after long lay off
Male 73 – Parkinson’s sufferer and stent fitted returning to activity
Male 65 – Crohn’s sufferer seeking regular activity
Male 62 – Atrial Fibrillation returning to activity
Male 47 – Ankle fused and diabetic needing more activity