Sheffield United retained their National EFL Trust Walking Football Cup last week at the home of England Football Team’s St George’s Park.
The Blades, one of ten teams representing EFL clubs to make it to the finals day, beat Norwich City 1-0 in a tight final.
Walking football, as the name suggests, is a slow-paced version of the beautiful game which is aimed specifically at the over 50’s. Through their Community Trusts, most EFL Clubs run regular walking football sessions.
The sessions have proved a popular week for older adults to stay active, with many reporting massive improvements in their health since taking part.
Rochdale player Steve Colesby, aged 71 said: “It is difficult, in a few words, to describe how much life has improved for me and many of my friends due to walking football with Rochdale AFC Community Sports Trust.
“My health and weight has improved due entirely to my involvement in walking football.”
The EFL Trust Walking Football Cup has been running since 2015. Around 5,000 men and women aged over 50 have taken part in the EFL Walking Football Cup since it began in 2015.
Representatives from the 72 EFL Clubs either nominate a representative or hold a qualifying competition to find their champion. The club champions then compete in five regional finals with the top two in each region qualifying for the finals.
Grimsby Town team captain, Peter Cribbs, commented: “For our generation to get to play at St George’s Park is amazing.
“We have one participant who lost his wife and went into a very deep depression, doing nothing but looking at pictures of her.
“We persuaded him to come and join the group and he has now got a new lease of life thanks to walking football.
“We also have members suffering with cancer, or in remission, and walking football gives them hope and purpose, by meeting and socialising with friends old and new.”
Mike Evans, EFL Trust Director of Operations, said: “The social and health benefits that walking football has for participants are massive; 82% of participants believe that their health has improved by playing walking football.
“We want to use the power of professional clubs to help grow the game and ensure these benefits are spread far and wide.”
Derby County Player Frank Woodward commented: “You can get forgotten about when you retire, so this is great.
“I would like to emphasise without all the support from Derby County Community Trust staff and the friendships I have made with my involvement in the Trust, my life would be very different.
“I would have gone on a downward spiral by losing all confidence, but instead I am really grateful for all the help and support I have received and look forward to everything that is coming up in the future.”
The 2018 National Walking Football finalists:
• Bradford City
• Grimsby Town
• Bolton Wanderers
• AFC Rochdale
• Derby County
• Sheffield United
• Luton Town
• Norwich City