The Game

What is Walking Football?
(See video at bottom of page)
 

Walking Football is like normal soccer- but with two major differences: no running and no heavy tackling.
This makes it an ideal game for men and women over 50.
The walking rule
The biggest argument in games is whether somebody is walking or running.
The temptation if you are trying to get to a ball before your opponent is to break into a run. Foul!
So players tend to adopt a style of walking that they would never use to walk down the High Street.
Such as like that rapid movement that professional walkers use - or increasing the length of the stride. The most debatable style is one where players keep their knees low in what looks almost like a trot... Ref?
The official line is that the heels should remain on the ground - but most players feel that cramps their playing style a bit.
Minimal contact
Inevitably if you are competing for a ball there will be some contact - it's simply a matter of how much force is allowable.
Pushing and pulling is not allowed - nor is any form of forceful tackling that involves physical contact.
In effect - any contact is mainly about standing your ground - whether you are trying to win the ball or hold on to it.
Usually a game will come to a halt if someone goes to the ground heavily - which does occur - most frequently when players trip over their own feet!
Who can play?
Players are aged over 50 - up to any age that they are still fit enough to play. I am 68 - but I have played in a competition with a very spritely 76 year old.
Teams can also be of mixed gender - in every competition I have played there have been female players on some teams.
Women only teams are rare - but after the success of the Lionesses that may change.
How fit do I need to be?
Players - even in competitions - tend to come in all shapes and sizes - many do not have an athletic physique at all!
The ability to walk briskly is essential - competitive games are not just a stroll in the park!
Games are kept short - in tournaments they are 8 minutes with no break. But teams may play up to 6 or 7 games over a couple of hours.
It's amazing though how quickly you can get out of puff - because you are constantly on the move.
Playing regularly is a great way to improve your overall fitness - because you will be using muscles you haven't used in years.
How much skill do I need?
The level of skill is very varied - and due to the lack of agility in many players there is quite a high incidence of mistakes. However, this is improving as players get more familiar with the demands of walking football.
Personally - I only ever played football in college at a fairly low level.
The key difference is it that you nearly always pass to feet - because it is much harder to guage how far to pass in front of a player that can only walk.
So the main skill is being able to control and pass the ball.
A good first touch is useful as pitches are small and you will soon be closed down.
Being able to hold the ball and maintain possession will help your team members to find space whilst walking.
Dribbling forwards is useful - but trying to dribble past an opponent is almost impossible due to the lack of pace when walking.
Shooting is often a matter of placement rather than power.
Movement off the ball is very important as is defensive positioning.
A love of the beautiful game is vital.
Other differences
In competitions organised by Albion in the Community, teams have been made up of 6 players. One of these is a designated goalie, who is the only player that can handle the ball in the goal area - but can come out and play the ball as a normal outfielder.
Games are played with a standard size 5 ball - but on a smaller pitch - with smaller goals.
However, unlike 5-aside - playing the ball above head height is perfectly OK - as is heading.
Throw-ins are actually kick-ins.
Penalty kickers are only allowed two steps.
As this is still a fledgling sport - some of the finer interpretations of the rules are still evolving.
Even in the competitive nature of tournaments there is a good spirit between the teams and the referees - most players are just enjoying themselves too much to let that matter.
Do I need kit?
Decent footwear is the main requirement - and it depends what kind of surface you are playing on (indoor/artificial/grass).
Trainers are OK on all surfaces but not ideal for wet grass.
Astroturf football boots are better - except for muddy conditons when they don't have the same grip as studded boots.
Metal studs are only good for grass and are not allowed on G3 surfaces like those at the Amex Academy.
A pair of astroturf boots can be bought for less than £20.
Other than that - whether you want to play in jeans, a track suit or shorts is up to you.
Teams in tournaments like to look the part in full kit - but not necessarily in training sessions. Usually the team has a spare kit for those that don't own their own. Not all teams in tournaments have proper kit - so they tend to be given a sleeveless bib - as do teams with similar colours.
 
Brighton WFC in action!