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Gibraltar Walking Football a beacon for others as UEFA embarks on ambitious programme

Gibraltar Walking Football’s success last week in the first UEFA Walking Football Cup held in Nyon, Switzerland spelt a pivotal moment for Gibraltar as it took a key role in the development of the sport.
Gibraltar was one of four nations participating in the pilot edition which has seen Gibraltar officials also discussing issues on how the game can move forward as UEFA starts to bring the game under its umbrella through its member associations.
At the moment Walking Football has been at the fringes of the main UEFA football community. Gibraltar is among one of the only associations where the governing body has brought Walking Football directly under its umbrella. With nations such as England seeing Walking Football with its own separate association.
Last weeks pilot edition of the UEFA Walking Football Cup was the first ever football event at UEFA HQ and comes as part of and ambitious plan by UEFA “to mobilise the football community to promote healthy and active lifestyles and widen the engagement of players across all age groups, particularly older adults.”
Reporting on the pilot edition UEFA posted, “this inaugural event brought together four teams composed of adults aged 52 to 80 from England, Gibraltar, Portugal and Sweden to connect, share, and test various adaptations to the Laws of the Game.
“This initiative is part of a broader inclusion programme called FootbALL, aiming to harness football as a catalyst to foster positive change in society, with a simple yet significant message: in football, everyone is welcome.”
UEFA also explained that its objectives are that “while different rules are being played across Europe, this event served as a platform to test different approaches – size of the ball, size of the goal, touchline restarts, number of touches, sanctions against technical offences – in a practical setting and engage in insightful discussions about their implications and effectiveness.
“The games went well. The five touches rule is a really positive way to play! It keeps the game a bit slower and fetches everybody into the game, a lot more passes. Good fun!””
Gibraltar was part of the discussions were UEFA reports that “beyond the matches, participants, coaches, referees, doctors, teams representatives and organisers shared insights on how the game can be adapted to better serve older adults, focusing on the health benefits, the potential for social connection, and the joy of staying active. These discussions will feed into a forthcoming document, to be published this summer, guiding stakeholders create their own recreational walking football programmes.
“This initiative aims to advocate walking football as a flexible and inclusive option. The goal is to encourage a sense of community, physical and mental health, flexibility, and hopefully pave the way for walking football to inspire all individuals to stay active through football, regardless of age or physical ability.”
Walking Football participants in Gibraltar explained that Gibraltar has become an example for some associations on how the main UEFA member associations can bring under their umbrella Walking Football, with Gibraltar having been doing it since the start.
The tournament also saw Gibraltar come away with some important performance on the field. Having previously beaten Portugal and Sweden along the way the team beat England 3-2 in the final crowning them champions.
Minister for Sport Leslie Bruzon congratulated the squad adding that: “In a week where we have several representative squads and clubs competing both locally and abroad this is fantastic news and shows that Gibraltar is ably represented across many sports and categories”.

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