Gibraltar’s walking footballers travelled to Denmark in August as the reigning International Super Masters 65+ Champions, after triumphantly winning the previous tournament in 2019 in Paris.
The global Covid 19 pandemic meant that Gibraltar were unable to defend their title in 2020 as the annual tournament was postponed for a year given various lockdowns across many countries and the travel restrictions that have been in place. Actually, the postponement meant that Gibraltar’s Walking Footballers reigned as International Super Masters Champions in the over 65 age group for two years.
Covid 19 has had some wide-ranging effects on many global tournaments and sporting events, many of which have been cancelled, shelved, and completely removed from international calendars. As soon as the Super Masters was rescheduled for 2021, Gibraltar’s Walking Footballers were determined to travel to Copenhagen safely, to defend their title.
Yet for the majority of the Rock’s Walking Footballers, competing internationally is just a bonus and something to look forward to. Their twice weekly sessions using the facilities at the Bayside Sports Complex and the Victoria Stadium are much more important. For them, walking football provides a much-welcomed opportunity to exercise and take part in physical activity and do so in the sport they love and have loved for so many years.
Furthermore, there is also a very important social side to Walking Football.Over a post session coffee tales and anecdotes from their younger days are frequently recounted and always with smiles and laughter across the faces of the footballers.
As they left this August for the Danish capital though, defending their title was firmly on their mind, “Ready to go” one team member told the local press whilst previewing the tournament. They also had their eyes on the two other events in the over 65 category, the penalty shoot-out and the running event in which they would compete in for the first time. One thing was for certain, Gibraltar’s Walking Footballers had not lost any of their competitive edge!
In the main event they were once again one of the standout teams in the tournament which was played in a 5 aside round robin format, somewhat similar to futsal, with matches lasting 15 minutes Despite a valiant effort Gibraltar were toultimately finish runners up to Wales.
The running event, which was a first for our over 65’s saw them put in another valiant performance, finishing in 3rd place, but the best was yet to come.
The third event in Copenhagen was the penalty shoot-out. With Eric Abudarham in goal, reigned supreme! The victory meant that they had finished in 3rd place or higher in allthree events they entered in Copenhagen, so overall hugely successful and proud week for Gibraltar’s walking footballers.
Speaking after the tournament Gibraltar Walking Football Chairman, Eddie Guerrero, who was in Denmark said:
“I am extremely proud of the performance of all my players and coaching staff in the three competitions that we participated in the Copenhagen Tournament. The hard training and preparation carried out prior to our departure for Copenhagen paid dividends and it demonstrated once again that despite our small catchment area we can compete with the best. We now look forward to the next international tournament to be held in Zurich in May 2022.”
WHAT IS WALKING FOOTBALL?
Walking Football is a different version of the beautiful game.
Walking Football is a walking pace version of football for men and women. It is a non-contact activity where any player who sprints, runs or jogs while the ball is in play concedes a free-kick to the other team.
HOW WALKING FOOTBALL IS PLAYED
• Running is not allowed. A participant always has to have one foot on the ground.
• Matches are played with modified formats (5v5/6v6) on smaller pitches with shortened game times
• It is a non-contact version of the game.
• The ball cannot be kicked above head height.
• There is no heading of the ball.
• The focus is on fun and making friends.
The full travelling party to Copenhagen consisted of:
Players: Abudarham Eric, Baglietto Frank, Federico Eliott, Figueras Victor, GuerreroEddie(Player/Manager), Lugaro Hector, Martinez Diego, Moudden Mohamed, Pecino Jaime, Perez Jimmy, Sene Andy, Zammit Charles.
Accompanying Members: Ghio Luis, Fortunato Charles, Langston Albert.
Travelling officials: Gibraltar FA Delegate: Asquez Leslie, Physiotherapist: Mitchell David, Manager: Guerrero Eddie, Asst Manager: Britto Gerry, Coach: Stych Roy, Assistant Coach: Field George, Contingent Coordinator: Beltran Dennis, Match Delegate: Reyes Jon, Referee: Jones Dennis.