The announcement, at the home of Inglewood United, included over $1.8m for Football Federation Australia’s Walking Football – One Million program, which includes Football West.
The two ministers joined in a demonstration match of Walking Football, the short format game which originated in the UK and is immensely popular there.
Minister McKenzie (centre) and Minister Wyatt (second left, in red) prepare for their Walking Football debuts
Minister McKenzie hailed the physical, mental health and social benefits of Walking Football, which Football West has piloted over the past two years.
“As outlined in the Government’s National Sport Plan – Sport 2030 – no matter what your age and no matter what your stage of life, we’re encouraging all Australians to embrace the philosophy of ‘Movement for Life’,” she said.
“The strong demand for Better Ageing grants shows us that organisations are ready and willing to help older Aussies adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“Physical activity for over 65s is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
“If we can get people over 65 back into their local clubs, participating in sport, we know we’re going to see positive benefits to the health budget, both mental health and physical health, and we also know the power of sport extends to social connectedness.”
Minister McKenzie announces the grants alongside Minister Ken Wyatt (second right), Football West CEO James Curtis (right) and Perth Glory Chairman Tony Sage (second left)
Minister Wyatt, the MP for Hasluck, said: “These exciting and engaging activities are about giving us more choice for a longer life, as increasing numbers of Australians live to 100 and beyond.
“Studies show sport is fun with serious benefits including better heart health and weight control.
“I’ve just played the first half of a game … it was challenging, more than I thought it would be.
“Maybe at some stage we’ll burn a football and have the soccer Ashes between the senior Australians and the senior British team.”
Football West CEO James Curtis, who represented the FFA at today’s announcement, said: “On behalf of FFA I would like to thank Federal Government for this support.
“The program Walking Football in the UK is huge. Here in WA we piloted the program over the last two years and the success has been really strong.
“The program Walking Football – One Million is targeting one million hours of Walking Football.
“It’s a lot of hours but we know football is the most popular played team sport in Australia so there’s a lot of people over the age of 65 who are looking forward to putting the boots back on or for the first time.
“It’s not just physical outcomes, it’s about making sure Australians over 65 become part of clubs and that clubs are an inclusive environment so we can improve the physical and mental health outcomes.”
The Perth Glory Foundation also received $858,000 for their Move Together WA project, aiming to increase activity and social interaction among up to 400,000 West Australian seniors.
Glory Chairman Tony Sage and W-League Coach and record goalscorer Bobby Despotovski also attended this morning’s announcement at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium.
Football West is holding two Walking Football competitions this year. For full details and to register an expression of interest, click HERE