A NEW SPORT is blitzing the Midlands and a local team’s efforts at the recent national championship has provided an added boost.
Devised only in 2011, walking football has quickly become one of the most popular sports amongst the older generation – and local team Beechcroft managed to finish in the top three of the FA People’s Cup held in Sheffield earlier this month.
The sport was invented in Chesterfield and national media quickly started covering this new take on ‘the beautiful game’.
Similar to association football, walking football sees teams of five, six or seven players – depending on the size of the pitch – play under the normal rules of football, though only walking is allowed.
A player must keep at least one foot on the ground at all times – failure to do this results in the free kick to the opposition side.
This slower version of the game has seen players in their 70s take part – and local player David Castle had nothing but praise for the sport.
After reaching the finals in Sheffield, Beechcroft Walking Football Club finished third out of 400 national teams – only losing 1-0 to eventual champions Grimsby.
Based in Hall Green, Beechcroft Walking Football club run sessions six times a week – each session specifically aimed at a particular age group.
Currently, the club has 117 members and the sport is going from strength to strength with participants playing from 40 right up into their early 70s.
Speaking to The Observer, star player David Castle said: “The sport is played at a reasonable standard and I hadn’t played football for 30 years when I took it up.
“I was a little hesitant to join at first as I thought I’d be the youngest player there but I’ve been welcomed tremendously and everyone plays with effort.
“Obviously we push the walking barrier as much as we can but if we go too fast and start running the team will be penalised so you have to be disciplined with the way you play.”
David said walking football is an ideal way to get back into weekly sport, physical activity and meeting new people when reaching your older years and choices become increasingly limited.
He added: “It’s a non-contact sport so it’s very generous on the physical side of things – but that’s half the attraction for the older people.
“We have plenty of tournaments coming up including a celebration of England winning the World Cup 50 years ago event which I’m sure will be a great occasion – both in terms of the sport and socially too.
“It was disappointing not to win the FA People’s Trophy, but saying that we were up against well established teams and we’re relatively new.
“We managed to beat Reading who prior to meeting us had never lost a competitive game – that was a real feather in our cap.”
Visit www.walkingfootballbirmingham.co.uk for further information about Beechcroft Walking Football and the sport itself.