Walking football – a sport that not many people are aware of, or if they have, often dismiss the idea of playing it because it is not ‘proper’ football.
I spoke to Jody Byrne, a Jersey FA Collas Crill Community Coach, and asked about their latest initiative, why they have started it and how well supported it was.
Here is what he said:
The idea for the league first came about when we took a select group of players over to Guernsey for a competitive tournament. Seeing how beneficial the competitive environment was and how many extra players it could bring in it was a no brainer.
Walking football is an initiative put together and introduced to encourage ‘football for all’. It is a slower technical form of the game created for the older generation to allow them to enjoy the game without getting injured (no running or contact).
The programme is growing and it is pleasing to see how many people the sport has positively affected socially, psychologically and physically on the island.
The support Santander International have provided us to get the league up and running is so valuable. We wouldn’t be in this advanced position without their generous sponsorship and we can’t thank them enough for what they have done for the programme.
Everyone at the JFA have been so supportive. A lot of hard work has been put in by Jean-Luc Desbois, Ricky Weir, Brian Oliver, Jersey Sport and the 4 clubs to get us in this position.
There is a stigma around the sport across the country. I have always said it takes one session to break those barriers and when you do the benefits are massive. Most importantly you’ll be enjoying exercise again with your mates.
The main goal of the sport is to get people active and to give people the opportunity to play football that wouldn’t normally get that opportunity. Bringing in the competitive branch is allowing us to reach more people that would like more than a recreational kick-around.
It is pleasing to provide people with opportunities to enjoy sport and life a little bit more. Whether it’s a child kicking a ball for the first time or someone in their 60’s.
With all 4 founding clubs full for this season we hope to develop the league to 6/8 clubs for next season and have established the Santander Walking Football Jersey Representative team who are planning to attend some major events in the coming year.
My message would be to come and give it a try. All of the Just Play sessions and clubs have a great atmosphere and it’s so good to see many ex-players loving football again.
A big thanks to Jody for talking with me about such a brilliant initiative, one which i would encourage people to get involved and fall in love with the sport, whilst socialising with different people!