Gladesville Hornsby Football Association continue to promote inclusivity and involvement for all through their introduction of Masters Football.
A popular concept in the UK, GHFA are bringing the Masters game to Australian shores in an upcoming tournament that will culminate in a Grand Final at Christie Park on the 30th August.
This work builds on the association’s recent introduction of ‘Walk Football’ to their Summer and Winter Football programs during the last 12 months.
The initiative has proved hugely successful in providing an avenue for those of decreased physical capacity to continue playing the game they love.
Building on recent progress, ‘Masters 9’s’ is a modified format of the game that caters for those who are no longer able to participate in 11-a-side, but not yet ready for Walk football.
This is an exciting addition for veterans of the game, many of whom are often forced into retirement following participation in the Over 45s division.
GHFA Competitions Coordinator Nikki Riddle explained how Masters 9’s will assist in furthering interest and engagement within the local footballing community.
“We had a lot of players who retire from playing full size 11 vs 11 matches, but they’ve found that there’s a big jump between that and walking football,” she said.
“They were looking for something in between, and Masters football is a concept that has been running for quite some time over in the UK.
“It’s a 9-a-side game played on an Under 10/11s-sized pitch.
“It has all the same rules as an 11 vs 11 game, but just on a smaller scale.
“We have a lot of people from Over 45s that retire, and often when they retire these people drop out of committees and working with their local clubs.
“So it’s not only about keeping people playing the game but it’s keeping them involved in their clubs and the sport.”
Following the upcoming post-season Masters 9’s tournament, the association are hoping to establish the game as a permanent fixture within their winter football program from 2020.
“This tournament is a knockout competition, playing games at the centralised venues of West Epping and Christie Park,” Riddle said.
“Moving forward we would really like to see the competition develop to a point where we can run it at multiple locations.
“As this area of the game grows, we will look to play it as a home-and-away season like many of our other competitions.
Walking Football will again be available within the upcoming 2019 Christie Park Summer Football competitions.
The initiative, actively promoted by Football NSW alongside Active Ageing Australia, caters to all individuals who wish to enjoy the health, well-being and social benefits of sport and exercise.
“What goes hand-in-hand with masters is the walking football competition that we’ve been running for twelve months now,” Riddle explained.
“We have a gentleman who plays in our walking football competition at the moment who suffers from a heart condition.
“He played at a decent level when he was younger, but unfortunately due to the condition he is not allowed to overly exert himself anymore.
“Walking football isn’t just for people who have sustained injuries or are too old to play, it is actually an option that allows people with other disabilities and conditions to continue playing.
“The competition is another opportunity for players who can’t quite handle the impact of running due to injuries.
“These are all ways of keeping players in the game for as long as possible.”
By Football NSW Reporter Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli)