Dodgy knees and countless ankle injuries have hindered the older generation of local footballers from playing the sport they love but now Capital Football has set up a new version of the ‘World Game’ that suits everybody, regardless of age or physical ability.
It’s called walking football.
The rules have been slightly adapted with 25-minute halves on smaller fields, six-a-side and no kicking the ball above head height. But perhaps the strangest adaption is the main rule change: no one is allowed to run.
“One foot has to be on the ground at all times, so it is quite funny to watch. Players’ immediate reaction is to break into a quick jog to get to the ball and they can’t. It looks like the Ministry of Silly Walks from Monty Python,” Glenn Armstrong said, laughing.
Glenn is one of the driving forces behind walking football in the ACT and his passion for football started at a young age. As he grew older and his knees and back gave way, the idea of walking football became an appealing one.
“I played football for 45 years but now walking football suits me perfectly, because my knees and back are gone,” he said. “I have succumbed to my injuries and realised my age.
“For people like me who still have a passion for the game and have played the game all of their lives, walking football is very appealing because it adds to the longevity of our time in the game.”
Capital Football ran a social league during the last couple of months last year, which was received quite well and was very popular. The new social competition is aimed at people 45-years-old or older and will kick-off on 6 February at Hawker Football Centre.
Walking football is one of the fastest growing sports for older people in the United Kingdom, with over 800 clubs registered. NSW and Victoria recently started up their own competitions, with Capital Football following quickly on their heels.
“It has been on Capital Football’s radar since the beginning of 2018. It has been something we wanted to get up and running for some time, given the popularity of walking football in NSW and Victoria,” Glenn said. “The more other states started it and advertised it, the more enquiries we were receiving. People were crying out for it.”
The social competition will run on Wednesday nights and will continue until April. Capital Football is hopeful to have eight or so teams signed up to the competition, with registrations set to close on 1 February. Glenn hopes the future of walking football will extend to accommodate people of all ages and allow families and young kids to take part.
“When we tried to get the trial off the ground last year, there were some families that came that brought their kids with them and whilst it was good to have that family environment, they were too young to fit into what we were trying to do,” he said.
“If walking football does become popular, we will look to set up family teams, so mum, dad and a couple of kids can take part. We want to make it all-inclusive.
“Who knows, maybe one day there will be a national team called the Walkeroos,” he said, tongue in cheek.
Registrations are now open and will close on Friday, 1 February. Click here to register.
Expressions of interest are also open for an all-ages/family social competition running through the same time period. If you are interested in entering a family team or an over-45 team, please contact Coordinator Game Development Kelly Stirton.