Walking and football may not seem to go together, if you consider the average pace of the game and the daring tackles.
But this beloved new game has been in the works for a little over a decade, with games taking place every week across Scotland.
Aberdeen is no different, and woe to those who mistake the simplicity of walking football for a lack of skill.
As the name suggests, the game is played at a fast pace, and players are not under any circumstances allowed to run.
Take off your power to walk, as you can walk at your own pace.
However, one foot should always remain in contact with the ground.
What does this mean for interventions? Cracked, but no contact is allowed.
You may not be a racer, but there are still tremendous health benefits to be gained from playing soccer – both physically and mentally.
It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke while improving blood pressure, and playing regularly can reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
As National Fitness Day approaches on September 21, which aims to celebrate what fitness means to people along with breaking down barriers that prevent people from being active, we caught up with retired butcher Davey Smith.
The 58-year-old, who lives in the Stockethel area of Aberdeen, has lost weight and improved mental health as a result of walking football.
It’s even more impressive, given that Davy thought his days on the field were over.
love the game
“I used to play soccer after school, and charity soccer on Sundays,” Davey said.
“All my days really, until I was thirty-five.
“Injuries got in the way, and I never even thought for a second that I would return to this stadium after 25 years.
“One of the players I play with now, we’ve worked so well that we’ve been playing together for 40 years.
“The two of us will be on the same court again, that’s pretty cool.”
Walking for Wellbeing
Davey previously played walking football with a couple of friends, but the group unfortunately falls apart.
Fortunately, he has been contacted by Street Soccer Scotland, which provides free football-themed coaching and personal development opportunities to socially disadvantaged groups across Scotland.
“I’ve been hiking for over a year, and the quality is really great,” Davey said.
The welcome when I first came was second to none.
“I immediately felt part of the team; some of the people in our group are great.
“They all have their own challenges, whether it’s mental health or some players may need extra support, but having the chance to play together is very nice.
Seeing the joy on other people’s faces makes me week.
A healthier lifestyle
“Being able to get out of the house, and find a little routine, makes a huge difference.
“You can tell new players how quickly that gives them a boost.
“I play walking football on Wednesdays and Fridays at Goals in Aberdeen, I also play Strikers and it’s a bit more competitive.
“I wouldn’t have been able to play at this level at all, had it not been for walking with football at Street Soccer Scotland.
“I lost a stone and a half in weight, which is clearly great for health.
“It’s the love of the game for me. I support Aberdeen and go to matches when I can.”
Davy also learned a great deal of new skills as a result of playing football, not least how to adapt to the change in pace.
Serious skill required
“When you pass the ball, it is easy to forget that the player you are passing to cannot run,” he said.
“You need to reduce the weight of your pass.
“If you pass it too far in front of them, there is a good chance that the opposing team will get the ball instead.”
The post has also worked wonders for Davy’s mental health, and his wife, Don, is incredibly supportive.
“We’ve been together 40 years; we met at a nightclub when I was 18 and she was 17,” Davey said.
Dawn suffers from three different lung diseases and is protected for the best part of six months.
“For me, it’s great to be out.
“It’s so good to get a chance to feel a part of something.
“Having that sense of having a ‘football family’ is very rewarding.”
There’s also a great dose of nostalgia for Davy, and a chance to catch up with old friends.
“It’s seeing someone I knew back in the day, and we’ll reminisce together,” he said.
“Remember when you were running that team, etc., it all comes back to you.
“I am a competitive person, but for me walking football is more fun.
“Of course some people still like to win, but it’s all done in good humor.”
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[Walk your way to wellbeing with new take on football]