Walking soccer? Saskatoon soccer fest encourages people to get involved with variations on the beautiful game
Soccer Days in Saskatchewan showcases top-tier play along with different takes on soccer
Soccer Days in Saskatchewan is a celebration of the game — but it also wants to encourage people to try some different varities of soccer.
The Saskatoon-based festival of football features the highest levels of play, including a match Thursday night between the SK Selects and the Vancouver Whitecaps at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
But the celebration is also about getting more people involved in soccer by including alternative forms of the game — like beach soccer and walking soccer.
That's right, walking.
"You must have one foot on the ground at all times," explained the Saskatchewan Soccer Association's Rahim Mohamed.
While that rule essentially makes it physically impossible to run (try it), that doesn't mean the players don't do their best to move quickly about the pitch. Mohamed found that out first-hand, when he took part in a walking soccer match earlier this year.
"I got quite caught up at times and I didn't care what I looked like.… I was just walking as fast as humanly possible," he said.
"It's probably pretty entertaining."
At the heart of walking soccer though, according to Mohamed, is the idea that it is inviting to those who may never have played the game, or to those who no longer have the ability to play at a higher level. He recalled a match earlier in the year in which an 80-year-old grandmother suited up to play.
"Her team was passing her the ball, they were cheering her on, and I think she felt a sense of community and support, and being out there and being physically active."
The walking version of the game is played on a smaller field with fewer people on each team.
While it may sound perfectly gentle, Mohamed said that the players do get into it.
"It doesn't lack a level of competitiveness but … when you're out there, you're really just celebrating the fact that people want to be physically active and socially engaged."
Soccer Days in Saskatchewan starts in Saskatoon on Friday and runs until Sunday.
The walking soccer matches will be held on Saturday at the SaskTel Sports Centre. Teams can register online here.
With files from Saskatoon Morning