Walking football is a variant of association football that is aimed at keeping people aged over 50 involved with football if, due to a lack of mobility or for other reasons, they are not able to play the traditional game.[1] The sport can be played both indoors and outdoors.[2] Coverage of a walking football session, initially believed to be an April Fools' joke, on Sky Sports News and in a documentary aired on Sky Sports Football in October 2017, led to several other clubs taking up this version of the game.[3][4] It has since become a craze.[5][6]

There are now thousands of teams and session all over the UK with players now featuring in over 50s, over 60s and over 70s teams. The sport has also proved popular with women over 40.

Though based on association football (albeit with more than 50 differences), the key difference from standard football is that if a player runs then they concede a free kick to the other side.[7][8] This restriction, together with a ban on slide tackles, is aimed both at avoiding injuries and facilitating the playing of the sport by those who are physically disadvantaged.[9][8] The manner in which the sport is played promotes cardiovascular fitness whilst reducing stress on the body.[10] It also helps participants maintain an active lifestyle.[11]

In walking football the game was originally played without goalkeepers (though goalkeepers now play in some variations) and, crucially, the ball must never be kicked above head height.[12] Different footballs are used in the indoor and the outdoor variations of the sport. When played indoors, a size 4 futsal ball is used. Outdoor games involve a traditional football. The size of the pitch can vary to suit different locations. The length should be from 20 to 40 yards and the width between 15 and 30 yards.[13]

The sport came to wider public attention in July 2014, when Barclays Bank aired a television advertisement featuring walking football to promote its services.[14]

Similar slower-paced sports include walking netball,[15] walking rugby,[16] walking basketball,[17] walking hockey (based on field hockey)[18] and walking cricket.[18]


  1. ^ "Walking game launched for footballers". Chad, 21 May, 2014, p.109. Accessed 6 January 2024
  2. ^ "Older men invited to try out a new sport". The News. 14 July 2014. Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  3. ^ "Walking Football". Chesterfield F.C. Community Trust. Retrieved 30 September 2023.
  4. ^ "Sky Sports to air walking football film in October". Walking Football World. 27 September 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Walking sport craze sweeping Surrey and Hampshire". 96.4 Eagle Radio. 7 August 2014. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Walking Football". Derbyshire FA. 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Walking football: A slower version of the beautiful game". BBC News. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Walking Football". Chelmsford City Council. 2014. Archived from the original on 15 August 2014.
  9. ^ "OldStars, nieuw project Heracles Almelo Scoort Voor Iedereen". Almelo's Weekblad. 1 August 2014. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Walking Football Club is a Runaway Success For Society Member Mick Quinn". The Society of Sports Therapists. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Walking football". BBC. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  12. ^ "FC Groningen gaat door met het project OldStars" (in Dutch). Ouderen Journaal. 22 July 2014. Archived from the original on 6 August 2014.
  13. ^ "Walking Football". Sussex FA. 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  14. ^ "England legends unite to enjoy Walking Football". Premier League. 4 September 2015. Archived from the original on 25 October 2015.((cite news)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ "Walking Netball". England Netball. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  16. ^ "Playing walking rugby". www.englandrugby.com. England Rugby. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  17. ^ "Walking Basketball". www.basketballengland.co.uk. Basketball England. Retrieved 6 August 2023.
  18. ^ a b "Walking sports". Just Get Active. Retrieved 7 August 2023.