Still in love with the beautiful game after all these years? Then let us tell you about walking football, the game that lets you keep on scoring into your senior years!

walking football

Football's more fun to play than to watch. And while you might not be a silky playmaker or a seasoned goalscorer, playing a game is always a chance to let off steam, catch up with friends and have some fun. But what to do when the legs and the heart aren't what they used to be? Well, in England they came up with walking football: football without the running and tackling. So if you're keen to keep on kicking a ball around, let us explain the origins, rules and benefits of this variation of the game!

Walking football: made in England

Walking football came into being in the UK in 2011, the latest variation the country has made to its number one sport. It has grown quickly since then, with 2,000 clubs now in existence!

France's first clubs were founded in Brittany, with the game since spreading to the country's major cities.

The basic idea is a simple one: to allow people aged 50 and over to carry on having fun, playing nutmegs and having a good moan when ball goes in off the post. Teams are most commonly formed on the basis of age groups: 50 to 60 year-olds and over 60s.

So what's the principle behind the game? If English isn't your first language, then let's explain it in the simplest possible way: walking football is a game played at walking speed. A little bit like race walking? A little bit, yes. Though the rules about walking are not as strict, you do need to have one foot on the ground at all times.

walking football

Walking football, how does it work?

Still confused? Let's take a look at the rules, which can vary from club to club and from association to association:

In terms of the duration of a game, the number of players and the size of the pitch, walking football is not unlike 5-a-side. There is one big difference, though: while the 5-a-side game is generally played at a high pace, walking football is played at walking speed.

If you break into a run or produce a sudden burst of speed, then you'll have a free-kick awarded against you. The rules also state that all free-kicks are indirect. So forget about curling one over the top of the wall and into the top corner from a dead-ball situation. A lot of clubs also have a rule whereby the ball cannot go over shoulder or head height.

You're probably thinking that it must take a long time for the ball to go from one end to another. Well, you'd be wrong. Players are very often allowed only three touches before having to play a pass.

What about defending? Contact is limited or non-existent and tackling is forbidden. Which is just as well—it'll stop you lunging in.

So is walking football any good?

Yes! First and foremost, walking football is all about having fun by playing the right kind of game for your age: minimal or no contact, a moderate workout for your heart and less stress on your joints and muscles. Walking football also means having to brush up on the basics: with no tackling or running, anticipation and positioning are the name of the game. Walking football is a game you play with your brain.

Secondly, walking football also brings everyday benefits, such as weight loss, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and stimulation of the cardiovascular system. It gives you your second youth and the chance to run rings round your opponents. You'll soon agree with us when we say it's better than bridge.

But it’s not football, is it?

Why is that? When you were younger you no doubt played games without proper goals, without proper boots or shinpads and sometimes without a proper ball. It was still just as much fun, though.

Walking football has an awful lot in common with football proper: passing, tactical positioning, team spirit, and shots that go in off the post! Above all, it's a version of the game that is tailored to the physical capabilities of the people who play it.

And if competing is as important to you as playing, then it has plenty to offer in the way of challenges: with no running, showboating or shoulder charges allowed, matches are won by passing the ball, positioning and team play. It's the perfect way to bring both your mind and your legs back to life!

We recommend you give walking football a try no matter what your age: your vision and positioning will come on leaps and bounds.

Have you tried walking football? Tell us what you think of it. And don’t be shy about sharing your advice on playing sport at an older age and telling us about your experiences!

Walking football: football without the tackling or running


DECATHLON team editor