One of the fastest-growing sports among older men, walking football is also proving popular with men recovering from cancer treatment and other health issues. So our new five-year partnership with the sport's governing body is the perfect match for everyone.
Walking football is exactly what the name suggests: football without the running. Aimed at the over 50s, it allows people who have loved the sport all their lives to get back to playing again. And it’s one of the fastest growing amateur sports. So we’re very excited to announce that the Walking Football Association (WFA) has chosen us as their official charity partner in a five-year deal, raising awareness and funds to help us stop prostate cancer killing one man every 45 minutes.
The partnership was announced during the finals of the WFA National Cup at Solihull recently, with the over-50s tournament winners, Birmingham, beating the Leggy Mambos 2-1. And we were there on the touchline handing out information and collecting donations with our supporters.
Established in 2011, the rapidly growing sport now boasts 35,000 active players and more than 1,100 clubs across the country. The managers for two newly-formed England teams, the over-50s and over-60s, have also recently been announced.
As well as agreeing not to run, players of walking football – in teams of either five or six-a-side – abide by other measures that adapt the sport to the players’ ages. These include minimal physical contact between players, over-head height restrictions and indirect free kicks. Many tournaments now cater exclusively for the over-60s age group.
Paul Carr, from the WFA, said: “It’s great to be involved with Prostate Cancer UK. There is so much synergy between the two parties and our demographics are very similar. We both reach out to men over the age of 50, and promoting the game, as well as spreading this most serious message about a disease that affects so many men, is a win-win situation.”
Paul has a more personal reason to support the cause, too, as his cousin, Mike Moore, 69, has been affected by prostate cancer and throat cancer.
“He’s an inspiration to me,” said Paul. “He’s still playing football three times a week and that’s played a massive role in his recovery. Hopefully the information we get out there and the money raised can make sure other men don’t have to go through what he has.”
Mike had been on active surveillance for several years before undergoing radiotherapy in 2012. “Before I discovered walking football, I'd tried gyms but they were pricey and not much fun,” said Mike. “Walking football is a great, fun way to get fitter and make more friends. I recommend it.”
Players of the game also praise the camaraderie and the joy of getting back to a sport they thought they could no longer play.
Our director of fundraising, James Beeby, said: “The power of football consistently helps us reach out to men and their friends and families, and we are excited to kick-off this exciting new partnership with the Walking Football Association.
“Walking football is one of the fastest growing past-times for older men, and a perfect platform for us. This ground-breaking alliance will play a valuable role in raising awareness and encouraging men to know their risk of prostate cancer, as well as raising funds for vital research.”