In the year of Cartagena European City of Sport, Cartagena City Council and the FC Cartagena Foundation are launching “Walking Football”, a sporting modality that aims to ensure that the over 50s continue to have options to play sport and can continue to enjoy football in a different way, avoiding, as far as possible, the risk of injury.
The initiative aims to improve the health of older people and provide opportunities to increase levels of social inclusion to enable them to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
“Walking football has physical and mental health benefits that can improve cardiac health, agility, mobility and the recovery of balance,” said the mayor, Noelia Arroyo, who was accompanied by FC Cartagena’s grassroots football coordinator, Javi Madrid, and the president of the FC Cartagena sections, Mariano Belmonte, at the presentation of the project. The presentation was also attended by the councillor for Social Services, Mercedes García, as well as the president of the Federation of Senior Clubs, María Beteta.
The project, in which the sport and health sections of the universities of Murcia, UPCT and UCAM, as well as the Federation of Senior Clubs of Cartagena, also collaborate, will begin to be taught next March in six fields of Cartagena, with the intention of extending this offer to the rest of the municipality.
“We want to take advantage of the municipal infrastructure of grass pitches to bring this sport throughout the municipality and bring it to the neighbourhoods where our seniors live,” said Arroyo, who thanked the support of the senior clubs and especially the foundation of football club Cartagena and football clubs throughout Cartagena, which are essential for this project to move forward.
The introduction of ‘Walking Football’ is part of the strategic plan for which Cartagena has been designated as a city of sport. The project is born with the training sessions for the football monitors and coaches who are going to dedicate themselves to this activity, which have started this afternoon.
But as well as being a sporting and social experience, it is also a research experience, because the research network created between the city’s universities and the City Council, through the Observatory for Physical Activity and Health, will monitor this activity.
The English invented football in the 19th century, and they are also the ones who have invented Walking Football, a form of the beautiful game adapted to the age of the participants (over 50 years old), which is causing a furore in Europe and is now coming to Cartagena.
The rules of this sport are clear: no running, no lifting the ball above the head, and contact is penalised. Walking Football’, in short, aims to ensure risk-free football practice for older people.
In Spain, it is being promoted by the Athletic Foundation of Bilbao, and a National League is already being programmed to promote sports leisure trips for this sector of the population.
In Cartagena, there are more than 38,000 people over the age of 50, and just under half of them are men. This is one of the many activities and events revolving around Cartagena, European City of Sport. More than 300 sporting events are planned for this year, 10% of which are of a national and international nature, such as the Water Games, the Parabadminton Championships, the Handball Championships (which had to be postponed in January due to the high incidence of Covid), or the Spanish Aesthetic Gymnastics Group Cup.
Under the European City brand, the King’s and Queen’s Cup in inline hockey, the finish line of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia, and the national boxing league have already been held recently.