Fighting the flab and keeping fit

Walking Football was introduced to the Algarve four years ago and has become a runaway success with groups now walking their way to fitness in Vilamoura, Lagos, Tavira and Olhão, where it all started.

Chris Wright, president of East Algarve Walking Football, said: “We started with a dozen sceptical elderly gentlemen in September 2014 and since then hundreds have enjoyed the fun, fitness and friendship of this novel sport.”

Homemade Eccles cakes, Bakewell tart and rich fruit cake were eagerly devoured and washed down with glasses of champagne as over 40 players and officials celebrated the club’s fourth anniversary following a vigorous workout at the José Arcanjo Stadium in Olhão last week.

This weekend (October 5 and 6), four over-50 and two over-60 teams will be competing in the Browns WF Tournament in Vilamoura. The following week a group from Keynsham (Bristol) will be flying over to enjoy the Olhão experience as will a group from Denmark comprising of players who have overcome prostate cancer.

A week later, the Benfica Foundation will visit the José Arcanjo Stadium. Last year EAWF were given the VIP treatment when they visited the famous Estádio da Luz (Lisbon) to play in the shadow of the world-famous stadium.

In mid-November, 16 teams from the UK, Spain, North and Central Portugal as well as the Algarve will compete in the Olhão International WF Tournament at the well-appointed Municipal Stadium.

It is not all about walking football – running is penalised by a free-kick – but a large part of the sport’s success has been the social interaction and camaraderie. Regular social events attract in excess of 100 guests and a curry night at the Hairy Lemon Poolside Bar, Cabanas de Tavira, on October 11 is nearing capacity.

Spin-off groups have evolved with a cycling section soon being followed by a string of horse riders. For the more sedate, a Cribbage Group will start in November. Go along and give it a try or just join in for the social Craic.

Photo: Players and officials celebrate the club’s fourth anniversary