Clubs across Portugal’s Algarve and Spain have slowly been returning to “normal”. The Algarve returned to play on May 3, the earliest they could, while in Spain the state of alarm ended on May 9.
The ending of “lockdown” in the UK on May 17 will have seen a surge in members returning to their clubs having missed their “doses” of walking football and will have been champing at the bit to get their boots on and get playing again.
In the Algarve, East Algarve resumed at Tavira and Olhão.
Cross-border friendly matches could be starting soon with the lifting of the state of alarm in Spain and the Algarve being in a “green zone”. These were popular in the past with clubs from the Spanish Costa del Sol taking part in East Algarve tournaments and vice versa.
But what is walking football?
Basically, it is the same as association football except you are not allowed to run!
You can walk as fast as you like but you must have one foot in contact with the ground all the time. Not as easy as you think. When you are chasing for the ball with an opponent, the temptation to burst into a run is so great!
Running is a free kick against you and, if you persist, it’s a blue card and two minutes in the sin bin. You soon learn because the next time it’s a yellow card and off for five minutes.
While rules are inevitable, they apply mainly in tournaments and event matches and can vary from tournament to tournament.
One of the objectives of WFAI is to standardise the rules in all tournaments.
Club sessions, however, are more about fun and allowing free play while applying only basic rules.
The first international tournament under the auspices of WFAI scheduled for next spring is making progress and it is hoped a venue will be announced soon.
Countries taking part are Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and Spain. Provisionally, Portugal, Gibraltar and the Basque country will also participate. Which reminds me, East Algarve are watching the situation regarding their annual tournament in October – fingers crossed, it can go ahead this year. One of the highlights of the tournament calendar is that it attracts the best teams in Europe.
Madeira joins WFAI
The Walking Football Association of Iberia is pleased to welcome Madeira as Portugal’s first member club.
They are waiting for restrictions to be eased to allow them to build on their membership base and begin playing.
They were confident they would have taken big steps forward by the end of May, with the assistance of East Algarve and the WFAI advising on setting up a committee, attracting new members, setting up rules and attracting sponsors.
We wish them well and look forward to their participation in events.
In Spain, the season came to an end at the end of May and, safe to say, the season was a non-event.
The league was abandoned in March last year and attempts to start the new league in September, October and November failed. The League Cup was awarded to Aston Viñuela.
The new season in Spain will start on Sunday, September 4 with the probability of a new league in the north east where teams from Alicante and Almeria regions will lead the way with assistance again from WFAI organising a ruling body, standard rules and fixtures.
As yet, the south of Spain league have no confirmed entries although the projected number of teams will be eight.
Finally, a message to the Resident readers who have just read this article and thought “I wouldn’t mind having a go at that”. If you are over 50, get yourself along to one of the clubs in the Algarve or Costa del Sol and see for yourself.
Most clubs have a page on Facebook and have their own websites with details or contact me at email@example.com
Next month I will list all clubs affiliated to Walking Football Association of Iberia and more about the game itself.
Ronnie Waugh, President, Walking Football Association of Iberia
By RONNIE WAUGH