KITTING OUT for re-entry…
We all know what we need to play football right (and certainly we’re not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs here!) but, yes, a shirt, shorts, pair of boots/trainers/astroboots and, just perhaps, a kit bag to keep them all in.
And that really is one of the beauties of reconvening your playing days – the cost of re-entry is very low. In fact, in many ways, the walking game takes that to a greater degree. Clubs are generally happy for you to turn out pretty much however you fancy – just stay clear of jeans perhaps but otherwise you’re up and running (Oops – so to speak of course!).
So perhaps this article is more useful advice for the players just coming into the game, having attended a taster session or having played for just a few weeks, but now recognise that an upgrade of kit could be beneficial or even essential. But that said, hopefully the considerations below are also a catalyst for further thought and will help with effective purchasing decisions based on specific needs and circumstance of more seasoned players too. We certainly hope so…
Rather than feeling the need to invest in an expensive sports top, you can simply get started with an old t-shirt. That’s the way most people start out, so you won’t look odd – and you can always upgrade later, not that doing that necessarily needs to be expensive.
Generic tops from renowned brands like Adidas and Nike can come in from as little as £10, unless, of course, it has a club logo on it – for some reason this multiplies the price by around five!
In terms of shorts, you can take your pick! Compression shorts can help to provide muscular support and so may be worth looking at further down the line – especially if you’re prone to pulling muscles while you’re out on the pitch. Alternatively, you can go for tracksuit bottoms – perfect during the cold winter months!
If you go for the former, though, you’ll want to consider long socks for a bit of extra warmth perhaps?
This is important, so listen up at the back! You’ll likely have used moulds or studs in your younger days, but since walking football is played on such a wide variety of surfaces, you’ll need to consider what surfaces you’re going to play on – perhaps regularly on more than one type of surface – before investing.
For this reason, it’s perhaps a good idea to take an old pair of trainers to your first session, they’ll be perfect for the first few weeks to get you going while you figure out where the land lies.
Clearly obvious to anyone who has played any football previously but, in general, you’ll want to go with flat-soled boots for indoor play, astroturf boots, with the nobbly soles, for the different types of astroturf surfaces, and studs or moulds for grass. Definitely don’t take studded boots onto astroturf, unless you want to face looks of derision from your fellow competitors (not to mention the facility management – although some state-of-the-art synthetic surfaces will allow moulded studs to be worn).
Again, don’t feel that you must spend a fortune on boots – brands such as Mitre and Nike offer budget ranges from as little as £10, though if you want to emulate Paul Pogba’s multi-coloured fare you can expect to spend around £50-£60 or more very easily.
Shin pads aren’t a necessity in walking football (whilst always a sensible idea, many – even most in our experience – regular weekly sessions don’t call for them), unlike the full-sized game – unless, that is, you plan to play competitively. You might decide you want to wear them for your own protection (safety should always be at the top end of considerations) but that may also depend on the nature of the sessions you play in, to what degree are tackles perpetrated and how much physical contact is allowed?
In general, though, you shouldn’t find too many tough challenges in the walking game – after all, we’re all there for an enjoyable game (and definitely not four hours in a casualty department!).
When it comes to glasses (spectacles), you should avoid playing with lenses made from glass (if at all possible). You shouldn’t find the ball going over head height, but, then again, ricochets can be unpredictable and catch you by surprise.
Instead, you can invest in a pair of plastic lenses with frames that won’t hurt you if they’re hit – either by the ball or accidently by another player.
Elastic straps are definitely worth considering, especially now that tournament referees are becoming more vigilant. If you intend to take part in tournament/competitive walking football, then it’s definitely worth making sure you have prescription glasses with flexible frames.
Water and any medication you might need are an absolute must, as well as a decent, waterproof (if you’re playing outdoors) bag to keep your kit in.
For tournament play, you’ll also want to think about taking some refreshments – as it can be a long day and not all venues offer catering – and some outerwear to keep you warm between matches – this can be vitally important as it can help to prevent you pulling muscles during the matches.
But above all remember, this isn’t a fashion parade. You can turn up with a pair of trainers and a t-shirt to start with – the rest can come later. Meantime enjoy your football and safety first, eh?