Over the past few years since its inception in 2011, Walking Football has been a revelation, growing at an exponential rate – and all without any real framework. Now, a new initiative will support the game’s growth by creating a solid infrastructure on which the game can grow further.

Stepping Out

Walking Football was devised in 2011 by the Chesterfield FC Community Trust, and began to increase its profile after it was featured in a Barclays Bank TV commercial in 2014. Ever since, it’s been driven by independent enthusiasm, with over 1,000 groups and clubs forming. There has never, however, been a universally agreed rulebook, alongside a near total absence of any structure.

The FA’s Stepping Out plan will give Walking Football a ‘national footing’ on which to coordinate this opportunity for even greater growth, and to improve everything to do with high quality provision.

The FA said in its announcement:

If Walking Football is to reach its undoubted potential its growth must be planned. For example, there’s no point in attracting lots of players if we don’t have enough referees. Similarly, competition will be unable to flourish fully if different parts of the country play the game to different laws. The Football Association

And so the FA has announced a plan comprising seven structural areas which must be in place including participation, governance and marketing.

About Walking Football

Walking Football is open to both men and women who want to play at a slower pace. The game was initially designed to help the over 50s – who, due to age, mobility or other reasons, cannot play traditional football – rekindle their love of football and improve health and well-being.

In recent years, other sports, such as netball and hockey, have followed suit with walking versions of their own game, and clubs report an extremely high retention rate. It is such a good idea you have to wonder how or why nobody ever thought of it before 2011.

Its benefits are numerous – regular physical activity and social interaction helps maintain strength, flexibility, energy levels and mental well-being. General good health and well-being make a genuine difference to someone’s quality of life, whatever their age, including lower blood pressure and heart rate, less fat, more muscle, and increased mobility.

If you want to get involved in Walking Football, you can find your nearest club here.

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