More than 200 walking footballers from across Europe have been welcomed to the North East for a unifying tournament hosted by Newcastle United Foundation.
United by their passion for walking football, players arrived from EFDN Leagues in Germany, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Scotland and Spain to enjoy two days in Newcastle experiencing North East culture, hospitality and sport.
Kicking off with group stages in the morning, all participants enjoyed a full day of fixtures at Cochrane Park with Newcastle United Foundation Team 1 ultimately securing the EFDN Walking Football League title after beating FC Schalke 04’s side 2-0 in the tournament final.
Jacqueline Critchley, a Senior Project Coordinator in Newcastle United Foundation’s Sport and Wellbeing team, said: “It’s been a really special experience for everyone involved in the third EFDN Walking Football League tournament and we’re so pleased to have hosted the event here in Newcastle for the first time.
“Walking Football is hugely important in the lives of our participants and is clearly just as significant for players from across the world. Bringing people together through sport and community is at the heart of what we do and this event really captured what our Foundation is all about.”
She added: “As tournament hosts, we entered two teams into the tournament under the Newcastle United Foundation banner and they finished ninth and first overall. Team One were unbeaten throughout the day which is an incredible achievement. It’s been a very special few days for all of us.”
Newcastle United Foundation delivers more than 16 hours of Walking Football sessions each week across the North East, including provision for women only and participants with acquired brain injuries.
The Foundation also hosts the EFDN Walking Football League on the charity’s rooftop pitch at NUCASTLE, powered Newcastle Building Society.
League participants were introduced to the Foundation and Newcastle United during their time in the city, enjoying a dinner together in the Magpie Suite at St. James’ Park ahead of the competition.
Players were also invited back to the stadium following a presentation ceremony at Cochrane Park. While at the home of the Magpies, the teams from across Europe celebrated with a closing event and went pitchside to gather memories of their time in the North East.
Walking Football aims to inspire players aged 50 plus back into sport and socialising in a friendly, relaxed environment. The game is ideal for those who may have been inactive for a while, who want to improve their physical and mental health or who are coming back from injury.