A former Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace footballer is urging people who may have hung up their boots to get them out and start playing.
Dramatically increasing in popularity, walking football is designed to help keep a spring in your step, regardless of age or ability and Paul Mortimer is keen for everyone to give it a go. Paul said: “London Football Association (LFA) have launched new walking football sessions to provide more access to the sport for anyone who wants to play.
“This is a really novel and positive way of getting as many people playing football as possible.
“Walking football sessions offer football to everyone, and because it involves walking not running, it’s a great way to level the playing field.
“There may be some people who are anxious about playing football because they might think they’re not
physically capable, but walking football removes these barriers meaning everyone can give it a try.
“All you need is a pair of trainers to turn up and play.”
Lisa Pearce, from the LFA, said: “Walking football is open absolutely anyone – men and women of all ages – who is interested in trying the sport. “Walking football was created in 2011 to keep older players involved in football for longer, and for those looking for a fun and social way to stay active.
“Games are played at a slower pace to reduce the risk of pain, discomfort and injury, with players briskly walking through matches.
“Although the sport usually attracts men and women aged 50 or over, the game is accessible to all ages, and can be particularly beneficial to those of a younger age with injuries or health conditions.
“London Sport recently published a report into the impact of the sport on participants’ health, with the findings demonstrating an overall self-reported improvement in well-being.
“The results also suggest that walking football has a positive impact on players’ social well-being too.”
Anwar Uddin, diversity and campaigns manager at The Football Supporters Federation, said: “We would encourage anyone to take up walking football as there are so many benefits for older people who probably don’t get as much exercise as they used to. “Playing the game can improve joint mobility, give you more energy, stronger muscles, increased flexibility, aid weight loss, help with breathing and increase stamina. Most importantly, it will help to form new friendships and restore that feeling of team spirit.”
The LFA has an ambitious target to treble the number of participants playing walking football in London.
It currently runs 11 sessions across the capital. And, with the help of PlayFootball, the LFA is set to introduce an additional 10 sessions, meaning even more playing opportunities for those wanting to give the sport a try.
Walking football sessions are at Coldharbour Leisure Centre, Hornsey Road SE9 3LX. They are held every Thursday and Sunday at 10am-11am. and prices start from £3 per session. In addition to these new sessions, Eltham Goals Community Walking Football already runs free sessions in Greenwich, held at Baldon Sports Ground, Eltham Palace Road SE9 5LU, every Tuesday at 10.30am to 1.30pm.
For more information on how to get involved, go to www.londonfa.com/players/recreationalfootball/walking-football