In early November, Ballina Walking Football hosted the first Northern NSW Football sanctioned Walking Football tournament at Ballina Hockey Club.
12 teams travelled from areas including the Central Coast, Brisbane, Wollongong, Mona Vale, Coolum and Bangalow to participate in a mixed and men’s competition.
Teams played several games throughout the one-day tournament with the team that finished at the top of the table winning the competition.
In the mixed competition, the Central Coast Mariners took out top spot while Ballina edged out the men’s competition by one point.
John Galletly from Ballina Walking Football was thrilled with the success of the tournament and is looking forward to making it an annual event.
“We held a successful Walking Football tournament at the Hockey Club that was an invitational event in which we asked teams with whom we had previously had great sporting contests to participate,” Galletly said.
“As a result of that shared spirit, everyone had a great day and we are already looking forward to seeing old friends again next year.
Galletly along with friends Paul Connellan & Jimmy Britton, played an integral role in helping to start Ballina’s hub in 2018, growing the hub to having over 50 registered participants and expanding their program to two days a week.
“The social aspects of Walking Football cannot be overestimated and in our view, must not be sacrificed in the vain pursuit of glory,” Galletly said.
“Many of our own group have often expressed their joy at being able to play again at our age. Most say that it is the highlight of their week and that it has made them happier and fitter. Everyone sticks around for a beer together after our sessions at our summer venue, Ballina Hockey Club as our numbers have now swelled to over 50 we now meet twice a week.
“Our philosophy is to give all players a clear path to representative Walking Football if that’s what they want. Several of our members have represented Australia in the Over 60 and Over 70 categories and the ladies have recently trialled for the Australian women’s team.”
The inaugural tournament came after many members of Walking Football’s Ballina program had travelled to interstate competitions and wanted to host one on their home turf.
“Over the years we have travelled regularly to Brisbane, Coolum, Central Coast and Sydney Northern Beaches, frequently finishing with at least an appearance in the finals of each competition,” Galletly said.
Northern NSW Football Club Development Officer Brett Hodgekiss said the tournament was a great success of promoting the program in our region.
“The tournament in Ballina is an important step in promoting the Walking Football program throughout Northern NSW,” Hodgekiss said.
“Walking Football is a low-impact, team-based modified version of the game. The program provides a great opportunity for people to get involved in physical activity and most importantly there is huge benefits for participants mental and social wellbeing.”
“Ballina are a great example of a hub that started from scratch and they have now built it into a highly successful and well-run social program.
“Northern NSW Football are looking to support club-based programs and hubs throughout the northern NSW region.”
“We have five programs running in four locations in Term 4 and already have multiple new locations for 2024.”
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