Walking Football


There was very few opportunities for older men and those who are not physically fit to access ‘mainstream’ exercise such as going to the gym, keep fit classes and football. The walking football is slower paced, safer and although still competitive, less aggressive than the ‘full speed’ version. The sessions were originally aimed at over 60’s but due to repeated requests from younger people to join, there was sufficient evidence to lift the age restriction.


The project aimed to provide an opportunity for people who had enjoyed football in the past or who would like to play but are unable to participate due to physical disability or old age to re-connect with the game, get some exercise and reduce social isolation and loneliness.

For senior participants:
(1) An opportunity to be involved in a safe, structured, fun, competitive sport which is appropriate to their needs
(2) An opportunity to learn new or showcase old skills and experience
(3) An opportunity to meet new people, mix with others of different ages with similar interests and make friends
(4) Reduce Social isolation and loneliness; (5) Get more exercise

For younger people:
(1) An opportunity to be involved in a safe, structured, fun, competitive sport which is appropriate to their needs
(2) An opportunity to learn new or showcase old skills and experience;
(3) An opportunity to meet new people, mix with others of different ages with similar interests and make friends
(4) Reduce Social isolation and loneliness.

Finally, the project aimed to:

  • Build relationships
  • Build confidence
  • Increase resilience
  • Encourage partnership working and co-production
  • Break down barriers and tackle stigma.


  • Who attended: adult men (women are not excluded but none have come forward wanting to participate as yet). Many of the players have long term health conditions but everyone is encouraged to participate in whatever capacity they can.
  • How many took/take part: between 15 and 20 men participate weekly
  • Age range: 44 – 75
  • Recruitment: various means were/are used to recruit players, including posters in various locations (football ground, GP surgery, pubs, community notice boards etc). Referrals from various partners such as Social Work, Community Nursing, Disability Sport, Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Carer’s Centre were also a source of new recruits.


The group met and continue to play Walking Football on a weekly basis. The sessions were organised between the football club coaching staff and volunteers. They play games of football on the 3G pitch at the local football club and follow this by having a cuppa and a catch up afterwards in the club house. The games are supervised by trained staff with support from volunteers and other paid staff.


Outcomes/benefits for the older and younger players?

  • Participants felt more included
  • Participants were able to be involved in a safe, structured, fun, competitive sport which is appropriate to their needs
  • Participants learnt new or showcased old skills and experience – some were retired coaches and had a wealth of experience to pass on;
  • Players met new people, mixed with others of different ages with similar interests and made new friends
  • There was a reduction in players feeling lonely and isolated
  • Players became more physically active
  • An unplanned outcome was the sessions provided welcome respite for unpaid Carers.

Outcomes/benefits for the community?

  • There is a sense of involvement and inclusion by those involved in both playing and organising the sessions.
  • There have been new friendships formed leading to individual and community resilience.
  • Some pressure has been taken of Carers of people who participate in the football as they do not have to stay with the cared for person during the games.

How did you evaluate this project/activity?
Evaluation of the project was carried out through an independent person informally chatting to and recording feedback from the players and Carers.

What would be done differently in the future?
A pre & post-engagement questionnaires for all participants and Carer’s would be a more accurate record of the impact of the activity.


The Walking football was funded financially and in kind by various agencies including the Scottish Football Association, Annan Athletic Football Club, The Safe and Healthy Action Partnership and individual player subs.

Sustainability/ Developments

The intergenerational aspect of this project was one that developed organically rather than as a result of planning. This will continue to be encouraged in Annan however in other areas where they are setting up Walking Football they will consider this approach at the planning stage.

Local priorities

The purpose of the local Safe and Healthy Action Partnership (which is a vehicle for Community Planning in this area) are to Take Local Action to improve the health and quality of life of people in Annandale and Eskdale. This project fits very well with this.

National Objectives

Healthier will enable people to live longer and healthier lives.

Scottish NPF Outcomes
We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

Our people are able to maintain their independence as they get older and are able to access appropriate support when they need it.

The project fits well with Outcomes 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 of the 9 National Health and Well-being Outcomes:

  • In that participants are able to look after and improve their own health and wellbeing and live in good health for longer;
  • By providing referrals and support for patients/service users to attend Walking Football, Health and social care services are centred on helping to maintain or improve the quality of life of people who use those services;
  • By supporting clients to overcome any barriers to participating, Health and social care services contribute to reducing health inequalities;
  • People who provide unpaid care are supported to look after their own health and wellbeing, by providing a break for them during the time the cared for person is at Walking Football, which can reduce some negative impact of their caring role on their own health and well-being;
  • By providing well-trained coaching and support staff people using health and social care services are protected from harm;
  • By encouraging staff from Health and Social Care services to get involved and reporting back how their clients are doing at the sessions, they feel engaged with the work they do and are supported to continuously improve the information, support, care and treatment they provide;
  • By making the most of local assets including the football ground and coaching staff and volunteers we have ensured resources are used effectively and efficiently in the provision of health and social care services.