Football Legend Jimmy Armfield will kicked off the Football League Trust's first ever national walking football tournament in Blackpool yesterday
The tournament features over 60 teams who, uniquely, will represent their local Football League Club and play in their official colours. The competition is comprised of 5 regional events, with the top two in each region qualifying for the finals which will be played at The FA's prestigious St George's Park
This slow-paced version of the beautiful game aimed specifically at the over 50s, Jimmy Armfield comments, "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 1 hour a week for 3 months enables players to cover 30 miles and burn 4,200 calories!"
Dean Grice, from the Football League Trust comments, "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 with a size
The North West final consisted of teams representing, Blackpool, Crewe Alexandra, Carlisle United, Rochdale, Fleetwood Town, and Wigan Athletic. Following a keenly contested group stage Blackpool and Crewe booked their place and at St Georges, with Blackpool just edging a tight final.
Dean continues, "The competitive spirit on show evident from all the teams but the camaraderie between all the player was brilliant and there was lots of laughter. 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."