The Association of Walking Football Australia successfully toured Spain and Switzerland in pursuit of silverware and glory. We entered the Super Masters World Cup in Switzerland, which was pre-empted by a training camp in Spain, in May 2022.
We chose the region of Andalucia on the Costa del Sol, Southern Spain for the training camp between 7th and 17th May. This was followed by the Super Masters World Cup Competition at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland, on the 19th and 20th May.
We still can’t believe what a fabulous sporting trip this actually turned out to be! The impact will resonate for many years into the future! Definitely, history in the making! Surprisingly, [following around 2 years of planning], our tour was not really limited by the effects of Covid and its restrictions. Unfortunately we didn’t bring home any silverware this time, but bushels of experience, ready for next time
Spain – Costa Del Sol
The advanced party arrived in the early hours of 6th May and established firm contacts with the Walking Football community in and around Calahonda. This included a visit to the venue for all 3 warm up games – Finca Naundrup. A good proportion of the squad to be representing Australia in Zurich then arrived at Malaga airport over the next few days including travellers from Denver Colorado, Dublin, various parts of the UK and, of course, from Australia itself.
The hospitality shown to us by all three clubs was magnificent and it would seem that all squad members who made the trip to Spain thoroughly enjoyed it and will be up for it again should the opportunity arise. The hotel (La Gran Cala) right on the beach with a 5-minute stroll along the beachside walk into the town centre with its bars and restaurants certainly nailed the brief!
There has been talk of these guys (mainly The Walking Dead) representing Spain in the Super Masters World Cup 2023 and even a potential visit to Australia by one of them (AC Benahavis) so it seems that strong and hopefully enduring relationships have been established amongst Walking Football communities from opposite sides of the globe. The AWFA is now an honorary member of the Walking Football Association of Iberia which has opened another intriguing possibility of playing in a major European competition in Albufeira in Portugal.
Switzerland – Zurich 65+
The over 65’s squad, bonded well and performed very creditably with an overall record of 1 win, 5 draws and 2 losses.
Post-match discussions concluded that much had been learned from teams who have been competing at this tournament annually since 2006 and there is serious optimism that a better finishing position can be achieved in Zurich in 2023 now that a clear and obvious path for better preparation has been identified. We weren’t far off!! A few improvements to distribution issues and strategies for dead ball situations would put us right there in future competitions.
Zurich itself? Beautiful, historic, affluent, very expensive and well worth a visit if you have the wherewithall. A real buzz for all of us to play at FIFA world HQ and a return visit is definitely on the cards!
Switzerland – Zurich 60+
The 60+ squad, that was rapidly assembled and finalised in the weeks prior to the competition was both global in membership and brand new, in the fact that they had never played together! – looked good on paper and World Class in presentation, [kits etc].
However, tactically, [thrown into a hybrid competition with very little notice] Australia [this mob of old Bucks] was taken-a-back both with the format, [running 5-a-side] and the contextual rulings from their very first game.
Memorable highlight proved a turning point for the Buckaroos… Australia 6 v France 0!!! [McCarthy 4, Walker1, Steve J 1]
So, into the final group game, Australia v Northern Ireland… A win would take the team into the Semi-finals. With only 3 minutes remaining the score remained at 2-2, goals from Chris McCarthy and a thunderous drive from TB… Chris Cassettari the suffered a multiply finger dislocation… He was out for the rest of the day and competition. NI ran out 4-2 winners and finished as eventual winners of the comp.
Switzerland – Zurich Penalty Shootouts
Our main chance now was the Penalty Semis… Australia v Switzerland… The Buckaroos scored their first three pens..! before it all fell apart! In consolation, Switzerland went on to win this trophy!
All in all… What a magnificent trip… Bring on the next one!
Honours list for Exiles representative games? [alphabetically…]
|Player||Day 1||Day 2||Penalty Comp||Total No. of Representative Caps|
|Tony Bellis WA||6||7||3||16|
|Chris Cassettari NSW||6||–||–||6|
|Ian Covill UK||9||8||3||20|
|John Cobbett WA||8||8||1||17|
|Patrick Crookes NSW||6||6||3||15|
|Steve James NSW||6||6||3||15|
|Brian Pearson WA||8||8||1||17|
|Rob Marshall WA||8||8||1||17|
|Chris McCarthy USA||6||6||3||15|
|Alastair McGeogh WA||8||8||1||17|
|Tom McHugh WA||6||7||3||16|
|Cliff Parker NSW||8||8||1||17|
|Peter Southern WA||8||8||1||17|
|Adrian Walker NSW||6||6||3||15|