Slower version of the beautiful game strides into Perth
Ready for Kick-off: Fr Dat Vuong is the first person to have started the initiative of Walking Soccer, a slower and safer way of playing the beautiful game, in Western Australia. Photo: Marco Ceccarelli
By Marco Ceccarelli
As Bedford Parish Priest Fr Dat Vuong was watching the FIFA World Cup being played in Brazil last year, he noticed the promotion of a slightly different version of soccer that caught his eye – Walking Soccer.
The idea of a soccer game played by people walking around kicking a ball immediately appealed to Fr Dat, who after years of playing for parishes across the Archdiocese had suffered a number of injuries to his feet, ankles and knees.
As a version of soccer very similar to the original, Walking Soccer introduces one fundamental rule: any player caught running concedes a free kick to the opposition.
The game is safe, enjoyable and especially suited for those recovering from injury, or who simply want to return to the game they used to play as youngsters.
“The concept of walking soccer gave me great comfort and confidence to better manage my injuries without giving up on a sport that I love,” said Fr Dat.
“I introduced the walking soccer games with a few priests during a Clergy Retreat in late August and they enjoyed it very much,” he said.
Walking Soccer is played on a small, five-to-a-side pitch with slightly modified rules designed to avoid injury. According to www.sportscentral.org.au, the game is both a great way of being active and increases cardiovascular fitness without putting stress on the body.
Other physical and mental health benefits include lower heart rate and blood pressure, better oxygen absorption, less joint related injuries, team work simulation, higher levels of psychological reward and satisfaction and lower levels of stress.
The sport has grown quickly in popularity across the United Kingdom and in Geelong, Victoria, with Fr Dat being the first person to introduce Walking Soccer to Western Australia - an achievement he is extremely proud of and one that he hopes will catch on in Perth.
“As Parish Priest of St Peter the Apostle Parish in Bedford, I wanted to officially start Walking Soccer here purely on the basis of promoting a low risk form of soccer for all to enjoy.
“I believe that if most of us walk 80 per cent of our whole life, then Walking Soccer will be a very attractive avenue for those who thought that playing soccer was impossible.”
The trend is gradually catching on as parishioners and finance and social committees from the Archdiocese have expressed interested in supporting the initiative.
Walking Soccer has also attracted people from different faith backgrounds who enjoy the fellowship and are keen on sharing something in a safe and healthy way.
As he left the soccer pitch feeling rejuvenated from an hour of Walking Soccer, Fr Dat had some final words for anyone looking at ways to stay fit without putting their body through too much physical strain: “if you can walk and know how to laugh then you have all the skills you need. There’s no excuse for not getting involved!”
Fr Dat is organising a one-day knockout tournament on Sunday, 29 November 2015 for the parishioners at Bedford parish. After this, he will be planning an inter-parish one-day tournament for any parish that would like to get involved.
Free training sessions for those wanting to enjoy Walking Soccer are held on Sundays at the St Peter’s Primary School ground, 101 Wood Street, Inglewood, from 5:00pm to 6:30pm.
For more information on Walking Soccer contact Fr Dat Vuong at firstname.lastname@example.org.