The Hotsteppers have three separate squads, playing out of Tonyrefail
The Hotsteppers have three separate squads, playing out of Tonyrefail

Walking football ‘keeping up’ with the times as game grows in Wales

The sport has health benefits for older people enthused by the World Cup

WALKING football is riding the wave of enthusiasm over the World Cup in Cardiff by holding a taster event aimed at over 50s.

The session, at Llanishen Leisure Centre, is being organised by Cardiff Council’s Independent Living Services on Wednesday, November 30. Also on offer for the dozens expected to attend are classes in Tai Chi, bowls, and dancing.

A spokesperson for Cardiff Council said: “The action will no doubt be a little less pacey, there will be no Red Wall cheering on the players, and most definitely no diving, but it’s the taking part that’s the aim of the game here.”

Gary Bell, who played for Cardiff City FC in the 1960s and 1970s, will also be on hand to talk about his career.

Walking football was started in 2011 by Chesterfield Football club to help older men stay active. It now has over 40,000 players across the UK and continues to grow.

According to the Walking Football Association, the benefits of the sport include reduced blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, and improved bone density. It also improves mental health.

And now, Jo Davies has set up her own team for women in Tonyrefail, Rhondda Cynon Taf, where she and 25 others, all aged over 40, play in a league.

The Hot Steppers were formed in 2021.

“I hadn’t played football since I was about 16 so thought it was time to get back into it,” said Ms Davies.

The Hotsteppers have three separate squads, playing out of Tonyrefail
The Hot Steppers have three separate squads, playing out of Tonyrefail

“I went to a few walking football sessions with Cardiff City Football Club before the pandemic hit but was fed up with travelling so far. I asked around my area and we eventually got things rolling by September 2021.”

The rules of walking football are simple. They include:

  • No running or jogging at any time.
  • No kicking the ball above head height, with heading being a foul.
  • No slide tackling of any kind.

The low impact sport allows all ages to get involved, Ms Davies spoke about how the club’s oldest player at 67 still manages to run rings around them.

The social side of the sport is what she really loves, however: “It’s all about building friendships and having fun.

“It’s so funny actually. We have our own website, merchandise, and are even off on tour next year.”

Wednesday’s event runs between 12.30 and 3.30pm.

“Anyone aged 50 or over and carers are welcome to attend the free event. If you have a friend or family member who would be interested in the festival, please come along,” said the council spokesperson.