Hong Kong, 10 Sept 2021 – For over five years, Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong (YMCA) has been active in promoting a new sport called “Walking Football”, created for people aged 50 or above and in which players walk rather than run when playing, making it suitable for men and women regardless of physical condition. To date, over 3,400 YMCA members have been trained in walking football, and a total of 212 matches have been held. Recently, YMCA was invited to become the exclusive partner of the Federation of International Walking Football Association (FIWFA) to promote this fledgling sport.
By leveraging each other’s strengths and networks, the two parties aim to bring the experience and benefits of playing walking football to people of different nationalities and age groups. YMCA and FIWFA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last month to commence the collaboration.
The MOU signed between YMCA and FIWFA stated that YMCA was designated as the exclusive partner of FIWFA for an initial 3-year period. Skills & drills training, coaching courses, referee programs and various tournaments are to be organized in a professional manner, where FIWFA will provide technical support and authorization for YMCA to attract wider public attention.
As a worldwide movement and global organization, YMCA has national offices spanning 120 countries. YMCA will take advantage of its international network to promote walking football in coordination with national YMCAs among YMCA members and local communities all over the world.
“Back in 2015, YMCA introduced walking football from the United Kingdom to provide an additional sports option for golden agers and people in recovery to promote health and vitality,” said Karl Lau Chun-chuen, General Secretary & CEO of YMCA.
Lau continued: “As this year marks the 120th anniversary of YMCA, we deeply appreciate FIWFA’s management team for placing their confidence and trust in us. The success of this international cooperation will truly be a remarkable milestone in the history of sports development. We expect to work closely with FIWFA, making walking football a popular sport around the world and a centre of attention on the world stage, so that more people will be able to enjoy playing this fun-filled activity. The Association values highly the cooperation. We have specially established a designated walking football logo in order to signify the sport and mark this collaboration”.
“Since establishing FIWFA, we’ve been promoting walking football at the international level as it is a sport for everyone, regardless of age, gender and nationality, to come together in a positive, healthy way,” said Paul Carr, Founder & CEO. “We thank YMCA’s dedicated efforts in promoting the sport over the years. The growth of walking football in Hong Kong has been phenomenal, and as everyone can see it is a safe and enjoyable sport. Working with YMCA is an exciting prospect, and we hope that walking football will, with the full support rendered by a global organization like YMCA, continue to bloom,” added Paul.
Walking football in Hong Kong
Walking football is an emerging sport created for people aged 50 and over. Since it was introduced in England in 2011, it has attracted a large number of participants in just a few years’ time, due to the reason that walking football places a greater emphasis on technical skills and the safety of players. In the UK alone, there are already over 960 teams, not to mention other walking football teams in many countries like Canada, Australia and Italy. And FIWFA is planning to hold the inaugural FIWFA Walking Football World Nations Cup 2022.
YMCA was a pioneer in bringing walking football to Hong Kong in 2015, officially naming it “健步足球” in Chinese. Over the past several years, we have been promoting this sport in different types of events. For example, in our publicity event, “Walking Football Hong Kong 2017”, participants got to see a demonstration of walking football and take part in a football training course. In the same year, we also held the first Advanced Walking Football Cup to get this new sport accepted by mainstream society.
Last year, YMCA commissioned Prof. Stanley S.C. HUI, from the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, to conduct a study into “The Effects of Walking Football on Physical and Mental Health of Adults Aged 50-70 Years-old” (Chinese version available only), where walking football was proved to strengthen cardiopulmonary functioning. For a number of years, YMCA has held training classes regularly to popularize walking football. Up till now, over 3,420 students have participated. As a result, the sport has attracted not only ordinary citizens but also the aged and people living with injuries to join in the fun of playing football.
About Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong
Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong was established in 1901. The organisation’s objective and purpose are set out in its constitution as being ‘the development of Christian character and the cultivation of the Christian spirit of service among young men, by the teachings of Jesus Christ’. The Association is committed to building a civil and compassionate Hong Kong through multiple service programmes based on holistic personal growth, commitment to the underprivileged and reconciliation extending from self to society.
About The Federation of International Walking Football Association(“FIWFA”)
The Federation of International Walking Football Association (“FIWFA”) is the international governing body for Walking Football and is based in England. The prime roles of FIWFA will be to promote and govern the sport world-wide, protecting its integrity and inclusivity, establish uniform laws of the game, and to organise international matches and tournaments. FIWFA embraces the highest standards and best practices in governance, transparency and accountability.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong – Kowloon Centre
Tel: (852) 2783 3636