Walking Football Spain was founded by Adam Chandler, 51, who has always been a keen sports player and played football most of his life. However, having experienced knee problems over the past ten years, he was told he could no longer take part in impact sports.
After witnessing a new trend of walking football sweep the UK over the past few years, Adam decided to take up the challenge back in Marbella “to get back into playing football and also as a way of meeting new friends”.
However, he could not find a club in the local area and so chose to start his own club.
He said: “In the UK, it is primarily aimed at the over 50s. However, we have not set an age limit as I was in my 40s when I had my knee problems. I want it to be open to men and women of all ages who want to play football but, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t want to play normal speed football.”
Having seen the popularity of the sport in the UK, Adam hopes that demand will also be high in Marbella due to the number of senior expats, golfers and tourists. It is a great opportunity for those who can no longer play normal speed football but want to maintain fitness levels and hone skills.
The club meets every Thursday morning in Elviria at the Estadio Santa María. Adam said it is mainly men who have been along to the sessions so far but he “would love to be able to start a women’s team soon”.
He describes it as “perfect for men and women of all ages to play together” as it is non-contact and, of course, non-running. The sessions include a warm-up and normally a match for 40 minutes with plenty of refreshment breaks.
Adam has been delighted with the reaction from locals who had, like him, been trying to find a walking football club on the coast without success. He said they have also had a great response from U3A in Fuengirola, who are now bringing a team of players down to play each week.
The aim is to expand the sessions further along the coast and start a few more games each week, eventually with tournaments. Adam said: “There is great demand from all the 1,000 clubs in the UK to come out to Spain for a long weekend to play walking football. Many of them already fly out to play in tournaments in the Algarve, so we want to offer them the chance to play on the Costa del Sol.”
The club was joined by ex-professional footballer Adam Virgo a few weeks ago. Virgo played for Brighton, Celtic and Bristol Rovers before his career was cut short by a serious knee injury. He is now a pundit and commentator on various shows including TalkSport, BT Sport and Channel 5’s Football Tonight. He intends to join the group again when he is back in Marbella this month.
The walking football sessions are open to all ages and take place every Thursday, 10.30am - 11.30am, at the Estadio Santa María, Calle Joaquín Rodrigo, Las Chapas (Elviria). For more information contact Adam Chandler by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.