The FA have published a revised set of Laws for Walking Football which they hope will create unity across the game and breed growth across the format.
The key changes are as follows:
A goal may not be scored directly from the kick off
When the ball rises above the designated height restriction resulting from a save or block performed by a goalkeeper the goalkeeper gains possession of the ball and must restart play with a goal clearance
A height restriction must apply, which cannot be less than the height of the crossbar and not greater than two metres
The game will be played with all free kicks being indirect free kicks
A player being sent off will result in a permanent reduction in the number of players on the team
The referee will award an indirect free kick against any player who is not walking regardless of whether or not they are in possession or if they are within playing distance of the ball or not.
How did The FA come to these decisions and why were the changes made?
The FA recognises that the game, as with any other format of football, is constantly evolving and that it is important that this is reflected within the Laws of the Game. Having an appropriate set of laws is important in driving consistency and The FA has been keen to adapt in order to allow the game to grow.
The FA undertook a series of consultation events with competition organisers from across the country in order to gather feedback on the original Laws of the Game and it is based upon this feedback that the changes have been made. Feedback centred on a need for greater clarity and consistency, an improved focus on player safety and adaptability across different facility types.
The FA hasn’t introduced non-contact as law, why is this?
The FA recognises that the ethos of Walking Football is one that expects an elimination of any contact that endangers player safety or is deemed to gain any advantage and The FA stance is absolutely aligned to this. While The FA has not introduced non-contact as law, as the practical application of this is quite challenging, it is committed to ensuring that a safe playing environment is created via appropriate training of match officials.
What is the difference between Law and Competition Rules?
Law allows for variances in certain aspects of the game (i.e. type of ball or length of match) that can be determined by a specific competition underneath their own set of rules in order to unify the format of matches within that particular competition. Very simply, laws should be applied consistently wherever the game is played whereas competition rules allow for some flexibility and local variance where appropriate to do so.
Is this it for the Laws of the Game or will there be future changes?
As highlighted there is a recognition that all formats of football are constantly evolving and Walking Football is no different. The FA will therefore undertake a seasonal review of the Laws of the Game starting from the 2019-20 season which will allow for periodic review In line with other formats and for any required changes to be proposed and tested.
What is next for Walking Football from The FA?
The FA looks forward to utilising the revised Laws of the Game across its flagship Walking Football competition, The FA People’s Cup in early 2019.
Before that however the focus is upon roll out of The FA’s new Walking Football referee course, further information on which will be provided in due course. This along with the revised Laws of the Game will drive consistency and help support provision of high quality competition at both a national and local level, setting the foundations for The FA’s wider competition review in the coming months.