Name: Tony Norton
Walking Football Club Name: Wiltshire
Walking Football FC
Favourite Position: Striker
How long have you played Walking Football?
Since Oct 2014.
Why did you first get involved with Walking Football?
Saw the Barclays advert like many people and thought wow i could play again, this sounds good.
Contacted my local FA who had also seen it but had nothing in place.
Put my name down on the WFU site as wanting Walking Football.
After a few months between contacts on WFU and the Wilts FA we launched our first session with 10 players.
Now we have 14 sessions and 430 registered players. Everyday or evening apart from Saturday.
How many times a week do you take part in Walking Football sessions?
3 regular sessions plus the odd one here and there or comp etc.
Can you let the readers know about your Walking Football sessions in regards of which age group are they for, are they male only, female only or unisex sessions?
All our sessions are for the Over 50's, male or female, we currently only have 3 regular ladies and all 3 play at different sessions.
Our oldest player is 82 and our average age is 62.
Anyone over 50 regardless of ability is welcome.
When you play a game of Walking Football do you play to the WFA / WFU or FA rules and why did your club decide to follow those rules of the game?
Due to our links and support from our County FA we have adopted the FA Laws of the Game, as i was involved in the FA discussion groups regarding the new Laws I could hardly not support them, however at our recreational sessions we don't play strictly to them, we don't enforce the pass back rule, the 6 second goalkeeper rule and we play all free kicks are indirect.
We want our recreational sessions to be fun.
If we enter tournaments we are happy to play either FA or WFA/WFU rules and i am now a strong advocate and supporter or Steve Rich's NON contact.
Describe the buzz you get having the opportunity to play a team sport again at your age?
I absolutely love it, great fun, great banter.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training sessions that you think are important to avoid injury?
Warm ups, warm downs and avoid contact.
Have you played competitive Walking Football, if so which tournaments / leagues?
We have entered many tournaments including the Peoples Cup and the WFU Nationals for the last 3 years but our favourite by a mile is the Almelo City Cup in Holland.
The best organised tournament around, different rules but great rules, first class hospitality, aimed at over 55,s from around Europe and encourage teams to travel with partners so its not just a lads weekend away.
Played the last two years and already booked for 2018.
Has your diet changed since you have started playing Walking Football? If so what is different?
Do you feel fitter and healthier since you have started playing Walking Football and if please describe how?
Massively, apart from stopping smoking I am now active again and lost 1.5 stones since i started playing.
Can you describe any injuries you have suffered when playing Walking Football and can you let the readers know how they were caused?
Calf injury because I didn’t warm up properly, I now warm up and stretch as well as wearing compression socks and shorts.
I have also broken my big toe 3 times thanks to the bullies who enter comps with the win at all costs mentality that is blighting the comp side of the game.
Do you always have a club member present who has had first aid training at your games and training sessions, and is there a defibrillator available if needed?
Yes we do and all the venues we use have first aiders and defibs.
Has your social life changed since you started playing, and if so in what way?
Hugely changed, as I still work and travel the South and not from Wiltshire originally I didn’t know many people but now have a huge circle of friends.
Does your club or facility where you play Walking Football hold any social or charity events connected with Walking Football and if so what were they?
We have had quizzes and film nights, many meals out, our own internal festivals and the Players and partners who travel to Holland have regular pre and post get togethers.
What are your best and worst memories of playing Walking Football?
The best by far has to be playing in an all stars Walking Football game with Geoff Hurst, Alan Shearer, Harry Kane, Fabrice Muamba, Casey Stoney, Alex Scott and the late Sylvia Gore.
Collecting awards from the FA for my volunteering and being recognised by the organisers of the Almelo City Cup as their Ambassador in the UK.
The worst has to be a tournament on the south coast, 3 touch rubbish, a couple of bully teams who threatened you and even shoved you in the face just because you dare to beat them.
How else has playing Walking Football affected your life?
My wife will tell you its taken over it but she is also very supportive, I never thought when I started playing that I would end up being the main volunteer/facilitator across Wiltshire, running a Facebook page, emailing all registered players the latest news and info on a regular basis.
Collecting the daily data from sessions and other facilitators to feed back to the Wilts FA & Wilts Council for their ongoing KPIs.
What do you like most about Walking Football?
Seeing like minded adults over 50 walking off the pitch after an hour with huge smiles on their faces.
What do you like least about Walking Football?
Bullies and bad tackles.
Do you find it difficult NOT to run and what advice could you give someone in how to remain at walking pace?
I dont find it difficult, it does come easy if you try and keep straight legs and one foot on the ground.
What are your goals for the future when playing Walking Football?
In an ideal world I would love to see everyone playing by the same rules whether its the FA or WFA rules, as long as its not too different to normal football or small sided but taking the age group into consideration, no need for 3 touch, let the flare players play as long as they walk, let the non footballers not panic about how many touches they are allowed to control the ball, keep it under 6ft height rule, no heading, we should not be encouraging people over 50 to head a ball, especially with so many wearing glasses and hearing aides etc.
But most of all lets get rid of the runners/joggers and the cloggers.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to play but is nervous about approaching a club or attending a Walking Football session for the first time?
Go for it, try it, if the first session is not what you thought try a different one, some are faster and younger , some are slower, like anything shop around.
What do your friends and family think about you playing a sport again at your age?
They love it, very supportive.
What are the costs involved in order for you to play Walking Football for foot ware, kit and weekly session fees?
I cannot say in case my wife reads this!
It is a standing joke amongst many of us that I do buy lots of different footwear.
The cost is different for everyone dependent on how many sessions you play and where.
If indoors or astro turf its just £2 a session and normal trainers are fine, we do encourage anyone playing on 3G to use the right footwear but even 3G trainers/boots can picked up cheaply.
We provide the bibs and balls at all our sessions thanks to the Wilts FA.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Play slow, play fair and play well, but smile and have fun.
Lets see more ex-refs getting involved , your never too old to REF.