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Friday 01 Mar 2024
NI sides perform well at international walking football tournament

England ruled the roost at the first international walking football tournament hosted by the Northern Ireland Walking Football Federation.

Staged at Londonderry Park in Newtownards, and run by NIWFF in conjunction with the Irish Football Association Foundation, the event featured matches across two age categories: Over-60s and Over-70s.

While the Northern Ireland Over-60s team have had some tournament experience over the past year, it was the first time the Over-70s squad had entered such an event.

Teams from England, including the Over-60s World Nations champions from 2023, and the Republic of Ireland provided the opposition in Newtownards.

The games were all keenly contested and played in the sporting manner for which walking football is renowned.

Both England and the Republic fielded two teams apiece in the 60s category.

Two close encounters with the England sides resulted in narrow defeats for Northern Ireland, while in equally tough games against the Republic the Northern Ireland 60s came away with two creditable draws.

England won the 60s category and underlined again that they are the top team in the world.

However, the Northern Ireland 60s can take great encouragement from their battling performances and renewed confidence from the experience of playing against the very best.

In the 70s category England were once again the winners, defeating Northern Ireland 70s 1-0 in the first game and 3-1 in the second game.

In the second match Northern Ireland led 1-0 and looked like claiming an historic victory but succumbed to a few sucker punches in the last five minutes.

Against the Republic the NI 70s came away with two impressive victories, 1-0 and 2-0, and finished runners-up in the tournament, which was a great achievement at the first time of trying.

Manager Gary Barclay said he was proud of the way that both the 60s and the 70s approached the tournament, the hard work and training sessions they attended, and their performances on the day. He said the tournament had been a great start to the 2024 season.

Next up for the 60s and 70s are games against NIWFF champions BraveHEARTS at Grosvenor Playing Fields in Belfast on Friday 22 March (10.30am). Supporters would be welcome.

For anyone wanting to take up the game of walking football please contact NIWFF Secretary David Lemon, at, and he will put you in touch with your nearest NIWFF club/s.

Image: The Northern Ireland Over-70s walking football squad who finished runners-up in their first tournament. They are: (back, from left) Terry Nicholson, Fred Cooley, Eddie Kelly, Geoff Layland, Jim Davis and George Bowden; (front, from left) Gary Barclay (manager), David Marcus, Drew Mearns, Harry Larkin and David Lemon.