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Cam & Dursley Walking Football Club are putting their best feet forward

All Areas > Sport > Walking Football

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Thursday, 26th March 2020, 09:00

Cam & Dursley Walking Football Club were formed last year Cam & Dursley Walking Football Club were formed last year

If you were asked what Harry Kane, Sir Geoff Hurst, Alan Shearer and Fabrice Muamba all have in common, then ‘football’ would probably be an obvious if rather bland answer.

Yet there’s more to it than that in that these iconic football professionals are also all keen advocates of the growing sport of walking football – a relatively new take on an old game.

Although first introduced through the Chesterfield FC Community Trust programme in 2011 to try and improve the health of older people in their area, it’s also perhaps a little known fact that the first ever walking football game took place way back in 1932 between teams of 11-a-side Derby and Crewe railway veterans, played at the Baseball Ground, the then home of Championship club Derby County.

Such was the interest in that game that the Derby Telegraph reported ‘Bald heads, white moustaches, red faces and spectacles were the order of the day’!

It was also recorded that the combined age of the Crewe team stood at 733 with Derby at 747. Although this one-off game was repeated annually until 1936, walking football then vanished until Chesterfield Community reintroduced the game in 2011 although it is now played on smaller pitches with teams of six-a-side.

Since then the growth of this game has been remarkable with now over 800 walking football clubs across the UK with locally, the Gloucestershire Football Association, coordinating the sport across our region.

But what actually is walking football?

Chris Benger, founder and club secretary of the recently formed Cam & Dursley Walking Football Club explained: “‘In essence it’s football without running and more closely resembles six-a-side in the goal and pitch size.

“And as the name walking football suggests, one foot should remain on the ground at all times. So, if it looks like running which often happens when players get carried away and break into a light jog, then it probably is and it’s a whistle and free-kick to the other side.

“There’s also no ball to be played above head height along with a minimal contact rule, although some contact is generally inevitable.”

Introduced to inspire men and women over 50 to get more exercise and to counter social isolation, the sport now attracts thousands across the UK rediscovering the joys of football albeit playing now at a slightly more leisurely pace.

Indeed, some clubs have regular players well into their 80s. And with the recent introduction of ‘The FA’s Laws of the Game for Walking Football’ this has provided further bedrock for the formation of competitive games and ensured that those playing in leagues and tournaments - coronavirus permitting - have a structure on which the sport can and no doubt will continue to grow and develop.

Commenting about Cam and Dursley Walking Football Club, Chris Benger said: “‘Forming a local walking football club had been a real ambition of mine for a number of years.

“It took two years to get everything in place and also to secure permission for us to practice during the summer months at The Jubilee playing fields in Cam while during the winter we meet in the sports hall at Dursley Community Centre in Rednock Drive.

“Although we only formed last year I’m really encouraged to see that we’re beginning to grow such that we now have 15 men and ladies affiliated to the club through the GFA – although we’re keen to encourage new players, of any ability, to come along.

“We’d be delighted to welcome them and it’s not only a great way to get some exercise, it’s also really enjoyable and a great way to make new friends playing a sport together that you all enjoy.

“For most of us, some nearer 70 than 50, this has been the first chance we’ve had in decades to get on a pitch again getting involved in something that creates a level playing field for everyone.

“And along with our weekly practices, to date we’ve also played 14 competitive games in a walking football league competing with other teams from all across the region.

“It really is fun. Soccer is in our blood and we can still do it – well, sort of!

"Where the sport will go next, who knows – but from modest beginnings walking football has provided a sport now cherished by thousands and one that only looks set to continue its remarkable growth.”

If you’d like to have a go at walking football, Chris would be delighted to hear from you on 07488 366745 or e-mail chrisbengerccsl@aol.com

Other Images

Walking football is becoming more and more popular

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