Walking football all about fun, fitness and friendship

Ruudi Abrahams, a founding member of Walking Football Association of Cape Town, says the sport is making strides, nationally and internationally.

Whether 5 of 50 years old, anybody can play, says Walking Football Association of Cape Town founding member, Ruudi Abrahams. 

Abrahams is among a group of 50-year-olds and older men who regularly take to the artitifial pitch at Fives Futbol at the corner of Jan Smuts Drive and Govan Mbeki Road in Lansdowne

They were at it again at the weekend, this time round in a Cape Town Walking Football 4 Health match – one of a number of projects the association has established to attract more players.

The Walking Football 4 Health Africa initiative is a collaboration with Walking Football 4 Health Asia.

Abrahams who is also the director for Africa and co-founder of Walking Football SA, said most senior players are 84 and over.

Abrahams said studies have shown that walking football can be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate hypertension.

He said the sport offers a multitude of health benefits for the elderly participants, such as reducing many of the heart diseases, stroke, and also improving blood pressure and so on.

Abrahams said although most of the participants were male, females of any age are also welcome to take part.

He said regular matches also take place at Athlone and Lansdowne civic centres, at Turfhall and at the Mitchell’s Plain Indoor Centre in Portland.

Abrahams said although the sport is called walking football, it is certainly no walk in the park, it has a base of strict rules. No contact and no running allowed.

He said they are also looking for more goalkeepers and referees willing to join.

“We have opportunities for people to travel the world. In 2021, we have been invited to the Walking Football World Cup in Barcelona, Spain.

“We support old age homes and offer Walking Football for Health as our outreach programme. We’re in five provinces.

“More than 60 countries now participate in weekly walking football activities.

“It’s a healthy activity where players have fun, fitness and build friendships,” he said.

One of the players on Saturday, Clinton Small, from Heideveld, brought his grandson to watch.

Small joined last year in August after reaching out to the initiative on Facebook.

“It’s always good, especially for a person my age. My cholesterol levels are high. I need to walk regularly or at least get my blood pumping. And that helps and I get to do it again once or twice during the week.

“There are guys much older than me, including a 74-year-old from Manenberg, but they are as active as young men,” he said.

Small said he has played soccer since he was 9 years old, but he stopped playing seven years ago due to his body taking time to heal after he sustained an injury.

“Walking football is really good because there is no contact and you don’t get injured.

“It is ideal for both men and women. You get to improve your health and lifestyle while also meeting friendly people,” he said.

Call Ruudi Abrahams on
083 998 0184 or Shahied Adams on 072 051 1344 or email walkingfootballsouthafrica@gmail.com or visit www.waf4health.co.za for more information or where matches are taking place.