It all started when...
Walking football was first introduced to Scotland in 2012, initially starting in Midlothian with early games also played in Tranent through the Hibs Fit Fans in Training programme and in less than four years has become one of the fasting growing sports in the country.In just over four years there are now over 95 groups with around 3,500 participants, covering most regions with an age range from early 40’s to 90 years of age.
Membership in the group/clubs vary from 10 to over 100 with new participants joining every week. Many of the groups welcome participants with disabilities, dementia, and those recovering from major illnesses, offering an opportunity to greatly increase fitness levels and improve social integration.
For more active participants there is also the opportunity for competitive play with many groups organising friendly tournaments and festivals. In June 2015 the first National Walking Football Tournament, organised by Age Scotland, took place in Edinburgh attracting 14 teams. In 2016 the entry was 24 teams and three years later this event has now grown to include competitive tournaments at both over 50 and 65 age groups plus a non competitive festival that attracted a total of 74 teams involving over 700 participants in 2019.
The Scottish Walking Football Network (in 2015), a steering group made up out of representatives of participating clubs and groups from across the country, decided to create a governing body to develop and promote walking football.
In April 2017 Walking Football Scotland was formed, a board of six trustees elected and in September 2017 achieved charitable status and affiliated to Age Scotland. Supported by Paths for All, WFS is now working in close partnership with the Scottish FA, SPFL Trust, SAMH, Drinkaware, St John Scotland and Prostate Cancer UK to raise the profile and support groups and participants across Scotland.
December 2017 Launch of Walking Football Scotland and Craig Brown and Rose Reilly appointed ambassadors for walking football.
2018 Winners of the Jess Barrow Award for Campaigning and Influencing and one of the first bodies to sign up to Scotlands Mental Health Charter.
In the longer term, discussions are also underway with local health services and other organisations to consider referral schemes or signposting into walking football programmes.