Rob Keating first took up walking football 18 months ago, little did he realise it would lead to international glory.
Prostate cancer nurse specialist Rob had the honour of representing England in the first ever international tournament for walking football. The over-50s team triumphantly defeated Italy 2-0 at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on Sunday, 13 May. With the over-60s team also winning 3-0, England claimed the victory.
Goalkeeper Rob described the day as “a dream come true“, saying: “The day was fantastic, but going through the national trials and being part of the first ever England team was exceptional.”
Having always enjoyed sports, Rob found walking football a year and a half ago at his local club, AFC Portchester, before being asked to play for Solent FC as well.
“Personal health problems had reduced my fitness and I wasn’t able to participate in football as much as I had before. Walking football has enabled me to regain a higher level of fitness and has inspired me to achieve a personal ambition to represent my country – and at an age when it’s least expected!”
Walking football is a variant on the well-known team sport, designed for people over 50. With no running involved, the game is played at a slower pace allowing people to play the sport with a reduced threat of pain, discomfort or injury. Teams are five or six-a-side with minimum to no physical contact between players. Walking football helps promote an active lifestyle, with many physical and mental health benefits.
“Seeing your family and friends waving and smiling at you from the stands, having your kit hanging up when you arrive at the changing room, signing the ball and an England shirt and to share it with Tommy Charlton, brother of Bobby and Jack Charlton was an honour. The whole experience was funny and amazing-” said Rob.
The shirt and ball will be auctioned off at a later date, helping to raise money and awareness for national charity, Prostate Cancer UK.
As one of the fastest growing sports among men over 50, walking football is becoming more popular with men recovering from cancer and other health issues. With one in eight men likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, the Walking Football Association has chosen Prostate Cancer UK as their official charity partner.
The love of football reaches beyond age and ability, making it a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness for men’s health. Being a cancer nurse specialist, the chosen charity is close to Rob’s heart. He said: “I think it is a great opportunity both locally and now nationally to support walking football and Prostate Cancer UK. It encourages people to stay involved in the beautiful game, to have fun, make friends and keep fit.”
Our urological cancer services specialise in the treatment of prostate, bladder, kidney and testis cancers. The team works closely with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and urological surgery departments to provide a full range of treatments.
If you’re concerned or want to find out more about prostate cancer, visit the Prostate Cancer UK website for support. Alternatively, you can make an appointment with your local GP.
Walking football takes its next steps into association sport with the European championships in 2019 and the first walking world cup in 2020. If you want to get involved in walking football, search for your local club here
Posted on Thursday 17 May 2018