Former Socceroos and Matildas players have officially launched a national Walking Football program designed to give older Australians an opportunity to participate in age-appropriate physical activity and social interaction.
Walking football is a modified, low-impact version of soccer that doesn’t require any minimum level of fitness or previous experience with the game.
It’s proved popular in the UK where there are 800 Walking Football clubs.
Launching the program in Canberra on Thusday with former Socceroos captain Alex Tobin and former Matildas player Sarah Walsh, aged care minister Richard Colbeck said the initiative will provide an additional one million active hours for the nation’s seniors over the next two years.
“Walking Football is a game designed to expand participation among senior Australians who love their football or those who just want a fun new way to get active,” he said.
“The fun and social aspect is just as important as the physical health benefits. Pilot programs have shown it’s a great way to make new friends and reduce social isolation, with many of the participants meeting up outside game times.”
‘Adaptable and affordable’
Under the program, 148 Walking Football “hubs” will be established over two years, offering structured matches, as well as activity counsellors who’ll offer advice on training, stretching and balance exercises that can be done in participants’ own time.
Full programs will begin in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, WA and the ACT with pilots scheduled for SA, Tasmania, NT and northern NSW.
Walking Football is adaptable and affordable, FFA Australia CEO David Gallop said.
“The time, location, venues and numbers on each team can be adapted depending on the needs of participants in each area,” he said.
“We also want to make this program affordable to encourage as many older Australians as possible to participate. It’s all about getting active, having fun and making new friends.
Walking football rules
- Running is not allowed and participants must always have one foot on the ground
- No contact is allowed
- Ball can’t be kicked above the head
- No heading is allowed
- There are no referees
The Walking Football One Million+ program is a joint initiative of the Football Federation of Australia and Active Ageing Australia and is funded by a $1.8 million federal government grant.
More information can be found here.