Football at a slower pace has kicked off in Scotland this month with the launch of the National Walking Football Network.
A slower version of the beautiful game, walking football is designed to help older adults maintain an active lifestyle. It enables people to stay involved in football well into their senior years, whilst also helping to get back into football those who had to stop due playing to injury.
The new National Walking Football Network was launched by the Scottish FA and Heart of Midlothian FC at Tynecastle earlier this month as part of UEFA Grassroots Day, which celebrates the common link between recreational or grassroots football and the professional game.
As the name suggests, walking football is very similar to regular football but with one key difference: no running!
Any player who breaks into so much as a jog will concede a free kick to their opponents, while the same rule applies to slide tackles. This is designed to promote cardiovascular fitness whilst producing minimal stress on the body.
Currently around 350 participants play walking football in Scotland every week, for whom just one hour's play each week for three months will see them cover 30 miles and burn 4,200 calories.
Jim Fleeting, Scottish FA Director of Football Development said: “Walking football is a terrific and inclusive way of introducing healthy living and fitness to those people who have perhaps endured illness or injury, or perhaps those of us of a certain age who have maybe been unable to for whatever reason to balance fitness with their daily lives.
“It is also an excellent social initiative and the Scottish FA is proud to be involved in promoting participation in this area.”
Walking football, which was first devised in 2011 and has grown rapidly in popularity since, is supported in Scotland by the SPFL Trust, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Age Scotland and Paths for All.
Billy Singh, Walking Football Development Officer at Paths for All said: “We are grateful to the Scottish FA, SPFL Trust and Heart of Midlothian for their support in promoting the health, fitness and social benefits of walking football. We will work together with our football partners, as well as SAMH and Age Scotland, to ensure as many people as possible can access walking football in Scotland.”