BURTON Albion’s Community Football Centre has played host to a showcase for the fast-growing game of walking football.
Hundreds of players, spectators and officials descended on the Pirelli Stadium as the National Walking Football Association put on a celebratory event to mark a new sponsorship deal.
Walking football is a non-contact version of the game designed to ensure older players, both men and women, can carry on playing the game well beyond the age they usually retire from the full sport.
Paul Carr, Founder and Chief Executive of the Walking Football Association, explained: “We have 12 teams from all the various England age groups including the Parkinson’s team which is fantastic as that’s something we have only just started doing. It’s amazing how people can carry on doing something they enjoy even with a debilitating condition and it makes a huge difference to their lives.
“It’s just a bit of fun today too, as a welcoming showcase for our new sponsor, KP Packaging, who are based in this part of the world. Burton Albion Community Trust have great facilities here and Graham Collier, one of our players, has played for the Brewers, so it all fitted together as a way of celebrating what we do, especially after Covid which meant we lost two years.”
Paul says walking football has a great social aspect and it has a big impact on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“The women players here are aged between their 40s and 60 and the men from their 50s to the over 75s.”
Paul said the women’s side of the game is growing rapidly.
“We have the women’s National Cup in October and we have increased the number of clubs from 12 to 18 and its certainly growing and as it’s a non-contact sport there are no barriers for anyone playing and we hope the Lionesses success will encourage more older women to go out and play again.
“Our youngest women are 40 plus, and most didn’t have the opportunity to play when they were younger. They missed out in their younger days, but we are giving them a way into the game, and they can still play competitively.”
Walking Football for men is a fast-growing game, with Sport England estimating that there are now 143,000 players.
Paul said: “It’s played in more than 60 countries now and that’s all without any marketing only by word of mouth.
“We have our national finals in Lilleshall next month which will be very competitive but also great fun and very friendly. “
If you want to find out more about walking football or join one of BACT’s sessions, please contact Neil.email@example.com