A group of seniors with an average age of 70 are taking on an unusual football World Cup. The Korean team, which will compete in the 2023 International Walking Football Federation (FIWFA) World Nations Cup in England from 23 to 26 August, held a departure ceremony at the Anyangcheon Football Stadium in Guro-gu, Seoul, on Sunday. The team will compete in the 60+ group competition. The tournament, which is being held for the first time, is the de facto Senior World Cup.메이저놀이터
Walking Football is a football game specially designed for seniors with physical disabilities or activity limitations. It was first played in England in 2011, and has slowly spread domestically as an exercise to help rehabilitate seniors with conditions such as mild cognitive impairment (an intermediate stage between normal ageing and dementia). It is being actively promoted as a sport for dementia prevention in countries that have entered an aging society. In Korea, there are 22 teams participating in the Gyeonggi Walking Football League. There are also many clubs.
The rules are different from football. Instead of running and kicking the ball, players move and handle the ball on foot with one foot on the ground. Tackles, shoulders, and fights between players are not allowed. This is to prevent contested situations to prevent injuries. Players wear training shoes, not football boots. A team consists of six players (including the goalkeeper). Passes must be made below head height and shots cannot be taken inside the goal area (6 metres).
Contact is prohibited, so the defending team cannot take the ball when the attacking team is in attack. The attacking team cannot also push or knock over a defending player. A foul is then called, resulting in a free kick, penalty kick, etc. Three fouls will result in a blue card and a two-minute suspension. Three more fouls will result in a red card and ejection. The duration of the game is 20 minutes for each half (5 minutes for the break). The pitch size is half the size of a regular football pitch.
FIWFA, the organiser of the World Cup of Nations, was founded in 2018 in England. It has more than 50 registered members. More than 20 countries have applied to participate in this year’s tournament. South Korea will face England, France, Japan, Canada, and Spain in Group A of the 60s. The tournament will be held at St George’s Football Park, the training ground of the England national football team. The second edition of the tournament will be held in Saudi Arabia in 2025, with South Korea aiming to host the fourth edition in 2029.
The Korea Working Football Association, founded in June 2021, finalised the selection of the 12 players for the tournament last month from players in each region and began training on 7 July. The average age of the squad is 70.9 years old. Former national team coach Kim Kang-nam (69) is at the helm, serving as both manager and player. Kim is the younger brother of former Ulsan coach Kim Jung-nam, who served as head coach of the national football team at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. During his playing days, Kim played for professional teams Yugong and Daewoo and scored six goals in 39 appearances for the national team between 1975 and 1983.
Won Heung-jae (75) is also a footballer. He was the head coach of Soongsil University and assisted Park Jong-hwan as a coach at the 1983 U-20 World Cup in Mexico, where he led South Korea to a top-four finish. Former youth international Yang Dae-gil (67), secretary general of the Korea Working Football Association, will also play.
The team will leave for England on the 22nd. “Our goal is to pass the qualifiers and reach the final tournament,” Kim said, adding, “We want to show that the seniors, who are in their twilight years, are still going strong.”