Older footballers from nine Football League clubs are getting another chance of glory thanks to a new national football competition from the Football League Trust.
The Walking Football Cup has involved over 60 teams from throughout the country representing their local Football League club. We are now down to the last 10 teams who will take part in an exciting finals day at St George’s Park on Monday 6th July
The ten finalists are: AFC Wimbledon, Blackpool FC, Crewe Alexandra FC, Derby County FC ‘A’, Derby County ‘B’, Leeds United FC, Norwich City FC, Plymouth Argyle FC, Swindon Town FC and York City.
Walking football is a slow-paced version of the beautiful game aimed specifically at the over 50s.
The competition is backed by football legend Jimmy Armfield, who said: “As you get older the opportunity to participate in team sports lessen – ironically at the age when you most need to keep active. Walking football is designed to help people keep an active lifestyle despite their age, as well as getting those back playing football who had to stop due to injuries. Simply playing one hour a week for three months enables players to cover 30 miles and burn 4,200 calories.”
The competition comprised of five regional events with over 60 teams competing, with the top two in each region qualifying for the finals. At the North West final Blackpool, spurred on by the presence of Jimmy Armfield, took the tittle with runners-up Crewe Alexandra joining them at the finals.
A hard fought South East final saw AFC Wimbledon win and qualify with Norwich. Home advantage proved key in the Midlands with both Derby A and B teams reaching the final and therefore qualifying. In the Yorkshire and North East region an incredibly tense final was decided by a Leeds United golden goal, however runners up York City will join them at St Georges where they’ll be looking for revenge.
The line-up was completed in the South West where Plymouth Argyle finished runners up to a very good Swindon Team.
One of the thousands of people who are feeling the benefits of walking football, Paul Jackson from Heanor, will be representing Derby County.
He said: “I played regular 11-a-side football on Saturdays and Sundays until I was 49. I then had some health issues and found doing any sort of exercise difficult but following a couple of successful operations last year I was able to start doing some physical exercise such as swimming and gym sessions but I really missed playing football. So I was very pleased when I heard about walking football and for me this quickly became a replacement for gym sessions and a much more enjoyable one.”
Dean Grice, from the Football League Trust, said: “Those dreams you have as a child of playing for your local team never truly go away, so the competition that teams represent in their local club and play in their colours. We are also grateful to The FA for allowing us to use St George’s Park to provide our players with the experience of playing a top class venue.”
Walking football has grown massively over the last few years and as the name suggests it is non-contact and anyone that sprints, runs or jogs while the ball is in play will be penalised with a free-kick awarded to the other team. The game is played on a pitch 20/40 yards in length and 15/30 yards in width.
Dean continues: “We want this tournament to provide the opportunity for friendly competition and to promote and help grow the game. So that more and more older people can benefit from staying active.”
How the final will work
The 10 teams have been split into two groups which will play a round robin tournament with the top two teams qualifying for the semi-final.
|Group One||Group Two|
|1. Derby County 'A'||1. Blackpool|
|2. Crewe Alexandra||2. Swindon Town|
|3. AFC Wimbledon||3. York City|
|4. Leeds United||4. Norwich City|
|5. Derby County 'B'||5. Plymouth Argyle|