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Celebrating football for all ages on World International Day for Older Persons 2022


As part of its Football Sustainability Strategy, UEFA is committed to promote football activities for older people.

The rise of walking football in England

On the International Day of Older Persons 2022 on 1 October, UEFA wants to celebrate football for older people. Indeed, as part of the UEFA Football Sustainability Strategy 2030 and our health and well-being policy, we want to promote football activities that embrace age and ageing.

Our first target – to have a dedicated plan on how to best involve older people in football – is expected to be reached by 2024. As for our second objective, we are pleased to announce that we have already reached our initial target, as more than 30% of our member associations organise football activities for older people. Thanks to the excellent work of our members, more and more innovative projects are being created. To continue this trend and inspire other national associations to develop their own programmes for older persons, we are now doubling our target and aim to have 60% of our member associations organising football activities for older people by 2027.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the pace of population is rapidly accelerating. The number of people aged 60 and over now exceeds the number of children under the age of five, and by 2050 there will be more people aged 60 or over than adolescents and young people aged 15 to 24. UEFA recognises the importance of ‘healthy ageing’, which is defined by the WHO in its World Report on Ageing and Health as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age”, and is already committed to making football accessible to all age groups and ensuring that everyone can benefit from the many advantages of the game.

“Because you’re playing and enjoying and getting wrapped up in the game, you don’t always notice just how much exercise you’re getting.”

Anne Fuller - player

Lithuania's passion for walking football

How do UEFA and its member associations promote physical activity among older people?

Firstly, by encouraging our members to develop an age-appropriate version of football, one that is played while walking. And secondly, by expanding ‘walking football’ as it is known, which is less dangerous and just as much dynamic, at domestic level.

While the physical and mental benefits of walking football are undeniable – weight loss, increased strength, better posture, lower blood pressure – the economic and social benefits are just as important. For example, a fit person saves on health expenditure, while regular group exercise makes you feel less isolated and creates a sense of belonging.

Michele Uva, UEFA director of football and social responsibility

“Staying fit matters more than ever, both on and off the pitch. As part of our Football Sustainability Strategy, we are committed to raising awareness of the physical and mental health benefits of playing football.”

In these videos from the Lithuanian Football Federation, the Portuguese Football Federation and the English Football Association, walking football players share their inspiring experiences.

UEFA will continue to work with its 55 member associations to develop walking football opportunities for older people, beginners, long-time players and those with challenging physical conditions.

Walking football for diabetics in Portugal

“The idea is that this type of sport can replace some of the medicines they take. It is as simple as that!”

André Coelho - coach

Read UEFA's sustainability strategy