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HomeSportsSoccerWalking soccer program could help Yellowknifers play 'soccer for life'

Walking soccer program could help Yellowknifers play ‘soccer for life’

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Running is a key component of traditional soccer. But have you ever imagined the sport without as much cardio?

The Yellowknife Bay Soccer Club is trying to launch a program in January for people interested in walking soccer: a modified, non-contact version of soccer where you can’t run, jog, or tackle anyone. 

Anyone can play the game, but it’s meant to be especially beneficial for older people and those with mobility issues.

“Life doesn’t end at 40 or 45 or 50 or 60 or whatever. So this is a way for soccer to truly be soccer for life,” said Joe Acorn, the founder of the Yellowknife Bay Soccer Club.

The club began advertising on social media for the program in December, and if enough people are interested they hope to start organizing drop-in games at the Yellowknife fieldhouse. If there’s enough demand, Acorn said creating a walking soccer league is also a possibility. 

a woman smiling
Shirley Harrison, a retired woman in her early 60s, is interested in walking soccer. She said it would be a fun way to get active and socialize with other people. (Submitted by Shirely Harrison)

Shirley Harrison, a retired woman in her early 60s, is interested in the game. 

“I think it’s a great idea. The only thing is once you get playing, I think it’ll be really hard to not run because you’ll get excited and then I don’t know, maybe I’ll feel like plowing somebody over and I’ll have to control myself,” she said. 

Harrison said the program would be a fun way to get active and socialize with other people. 

“I don’t think I could run,” she said, after giving it some more thought. “I could run away from a bear or to save one of my grandsons, but that’s probably it.”

A growing sport

Yellowknifers aren’t the first to think of walking soccer. There are programs in other parts of Canada already, including Whitehorse and B.C. and Ontario. The sport held its inaugural World Nations Cup in England this year, and a Canadian team of men over the age of 60 made it to the semi-finals. 

A view of a soccer ball on the grass.
A file photo of a soccer ball. Walking soccer is a modified, non-contact version of soccer where you can’t run, jog, or tackle anyone. (Jason Cairnduff/Reuters)

Bilal Sami, treasurer of the Canadian Walking Soccer Association, said members of Canada’s team said walking soccer had made a huge difference for them. 

“They were immobile, or they had physical disabilities that they didn’t have any motivation to get treatment for,” he said. The sport motivated them to go through the healing treatment process because they had a game that they wanted to play.

Sami said one player was named goalkeeper of the year during the tournament.

“He was literally in tears. He said that at his age it’s so rare for them to find something that they can be so passionate about, or something that they can be recognized for,” he said. 

“He was moved by that recognition.”

Spreading the word

The walking soccer program in Yellowknife would be open to any one from any age group. 

People who want to sign up can reach out to the Yellowknife Bay Soccer Club by sending an email to walking_soccer@yellowknifebaysoccer.ca

Acorn said a lot of people don’t know about the sport — and he’s been sending YouTube videos to people who are messaging him about it. 

Some older soccer players may have their doubts, saying it’s not “real soccer,” said Acorn. But they usually come around after seeing the videos and learning more, he said. 

“Most people overcome their initial resistance and say, ‘yeah, OK, that looks like it might be fun.'”

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