Four ladies from Preston are hoping to represent England in the first ever Women’s Walking Football World Cup.Advertisement
Anne-Marie Craven, Nicola Rutherford, Alison Hitchen and Louise Cafferky all made debuts for their nation in November as they beat Wales 7-1.
It now seems the women, who play together at PNE Community, have a great chance of being chosen for the upcoming World Cup which takes place in Mallorca next May.
Anne-Marie, who captained the over 40s team against Wales, said: “It was absolutely incredible; a huge honour which capped my 50th birthday as a real treat so I was absolutely delighted and honoured.
“I’m hoping I’ve been picked [for the World Cup] because the flights are booked, the apartment’s booked, family are booked so it’ll be absolutely fantastic. A nice little bit of football in the sunshine!”
All four ladies were chosen to play against Wales for England’s over 40s side after they impressed during trials in Romford.
They train weekly at PNE Community Training Centre in Ingol where women of any age are able to go and play.
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Nicola Rutherford said: “This is a massive team sport. Here in particular we welcome anybody and everybody, all ages, experience and it’s just a great social life as well outside of playing.
“Without it I might be a little bit bored in the evening!”
England face a trip to Sweden before the tournament kicks off, but they don’t yet know who they will face at the World Cup as countries still have plenty of time to sign up.
Currently the competition is all self-funded and the International Walking Football Federation (IWFF) are on the search for a sponsor to help support the players.
Terry Rice, Director of the IWFF, said: “We are looking for a big sponsor just to help fund the ladies travel expenses etc.
“The way I look at it, if you’re representing your country you shouldn’t be paying out of your back pocket.”
Walking football is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK with over 40,000 now playing every week as it offers people of any age another chance to play the beautiful game.
The general principles of walking football are just as it sounds; any running is penalised and it is also a minimal contact sport.
Nicola added: “Football is a well established and enjoyed sport and the fact that people can still enjoy playing into their later years is a huge benefit to quality of life; socially, physically and mentally.”
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For more information on next year’s World Cup, visit iwff.com.