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Physical & mental health benefits of football

Football Memories Scotland & Walking Football Scotland launch partnership project to increase support for local communities

Two organisations with football at their hearts have joined forces to showcase the benefits that football has to offer on both physical and mental health.

Football Memories Scotland and Walking Football Scotland launched the first session in an innovative new partnership project at Hampden Park last week which brought together walking football and reminiscence sessions, with 10 more such days planned for next year.


Richard McBrearty & Ursula McFarlane, Football Memories Scotland with Matt Ramsay, Walking Football Scotland


A newly drafted memorandum of understanding has been put in place to bring two organisations closer together than ever before. Football Memories Scotland and Walking Football Scotland both reach thousands of people across the country every week between their respective group activities and have a similar target audience, so the project aims to develop more ‘blended’ clubs around the country that can deliver both walking football and football reminiscence sessions.

Members of Whitletts Victoria F.C. based in Ayrshire were the first group to trial the new partnership project. Club staff and members enjoyed a tour of Hampden Park and the Scottish Football Museum, led by the knowledgeable Visitor Services Officers of the Museum. Tour highlights include the newly opened Scottish Cup Gallery, History Makers Gallery celebrating the men’s and women’s game as part of the 150 years of Scottish football celebrations and seeing the home and away dressing rooms of the national stadium. The group was then split into two teams and after changing their tops and boots in the stadium’s home dressing room, went head-to-head in a game of Walking Football, led by Walking Football Scotland coaches (remove). Competitive spirits ran high as players then tested the speed of their shot against each other, before settling into the Hall of Fame gallery for a reminiscence session with Football Memories Scotland volunteers Robert Harvey and Arthur Grant who shared information about the project, its impact and ways to get involved. The staff and players of Whitletts Vics also had the chance to browse old memorabilia used in reminiscence group sessions to trigger memories and discussions, which inevitably brought through lots of fond personal memories and anecdotes of football of the past.

Collaboration between the two Game Leaders of the Scottish Para Football Association isn’t new, but this new wave of proactive mutual support comes at a time of growth for both organisations, as both reminiscence groups and walking football teams continue to increase in number rapidly across Scotland.

There are now over 500 Football Memories groups in Scotland, from as far north as Stornoway and as far south as Stranraer, with trained volunteers delivering group sessions on a regular basis in community settings, care homes and hospitals. To support the delivery of reminiscence sessions alongside walking football groups, the Football Memories Scotland team is providing Walking Football Scotland leaders with training and information on reminiscence and working with those who live with dementia.

Walking Football Scotland has over 140 groups across Scotland, with over 3,500 players taking part on a weekly basis. To support the delivery of physical activity sessions alongside groups, the reminiscence groups the WFS team is providing group leaders with information and opportunities on how groups could start their own walking football sessions in their communities.

Richard McBrearty, Project Director of Football Memories, said:

“Football exists in many forms and this partnership allows us to connect people not only to their treasured memories of the game but to the opportunity to be involved again in a game of football should they wish, delivered by trained coordinators who can support them and their carers and families.

We hope these partnership days will enable us to connect to Walking Football clubs across the country who are interested in the mutual benefits of both playing football and reminiscing about football that can help so many members of our local communities to feel part of the game they love, especially those who may be living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.”


Robert Harvey & Arthur Grant of Football Memories Scotland lead a reminiscence session for Whitletts Victoria F.C.


Kenny McLean, President of Walking Football Scotland, said:

“We are delighted to be reaffirming our partnership with Football Memories Scotland. This memorandum of understanding shows that both organisations have a shared goal towards improving the social and mental health wellbeing of older adults in Scotland. This partnership is a perfect fit to support the growth of walking football and the engagement of older adults in their common interest in football and its history."

Louis Kerr, Community Football Coordinator for Vics in the Community said:

Everyone from our walking football group thoroughly enjoyed the day out at Hampden! The tour, getting changed in the dressing room and then enjoying a game in the iconic warm up area all ensured it was a special occasion for everyone involved. We learned about the power of Football Memories and the huge impact it has made across so many lives already. As a result, we'll be looking to start a group of our own soon. We'd like to thank Walking Football Scotland and Football Memories for providing this fantastic experience.”

Walking Football clubs that don’t currently run Football Memories groups are invited to contact project organisers to express interest in being part of a 2024 session at Hampden Park, which will run monthly. No costs are involved apart from the club’s provision of transport to Hampden Park on the day. Interested clubs should contact Matt Ramsay, contact details below.

Ashley Pedersen, CEO of Scottish ParaFootball, commented: 

“Football is much more than a physical game on the pitch. For many, regular sessions discussing the sport and its history serve as a lifeline to a social group; the comfort of familiarity; the reigniting of cherished memories. 

“With a partnership that combines these benefits with playing the game at a pace that suits the players, serves not only to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of the older population, but demonstrates the power and flexibility of football as a tool to engage everyone in society. 

“We look forward to seeing the impact of this partnership.”

Clubs interested in being part of these sessions in 2024 should contact: to register their interest.



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