MAN V FAT Football uses the power of the beautiful game to help overweight men get in shape.
Walsall FC Community Programme has formed a unique partnership with Man V Fat, Public Health and whg to help deliver the initiative.
The 14-week project, taking place at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus, has seen players lose over 800lbs in total.
Of those who attended 10 or more of the sessions, 95% have achieved weight loss, shedding an average of 4% of their bodyweight.
Andrew Shanahan, Founder of MAN V FAT Football, said: “We're thrilled about the amazing progress that the players on the Walsall league have made. In large part this is thanks to the dedication of the coaches from Walsall FC and to the continued support of our funding partners.
“You can't argue with the results that the league achieved. We're thrilled that whg and Walsall Public Health are extending the funding available to MAN v FAT Football so that we can support even more men in the Walsall area and start them on their own path to health.
MAN v FAT encourages victories on and off the pitch, with points awarded to teams based on their results and weight loss.
A new season of MAN V FAT started yesterday (Tuesday 3 October), with plans to expand this to a second league in future.
Chris Springthorpe, from Walsall FC Community Programme, said: “It was great to run these sessions and to see the results over the 14-week period.
“But the social aspect has also been important. The like-minded players push each other to succeed, and build friendships along the way.”
Walsall FC Press Officer Ashley Wilkinson joined a team, and took part in MAN V FAT league matches.
He said: “The weekly arranged fixtures provide stability to your exercise and, by being assigned to a team, you can soon build that sense of camaraderie to help you achieve your goals.
“Like on a football pitch, you back your teammates to reach their weight targets each week and that keeps you motivated.
“My time with MAN v FAT was extremely enjoyable and helped me lose weight while getting back into the swing of regular, competitive weekly football.”
The programme was joint-commissioned by Public Health and whg - the latter being the first housing association in the country to fund a league.
Lesley Dews, whg’s Health and Housing Partnerships Manager, said: “We are delighted with the outcomes of the first Walsall league. It’s notoriously difficult to engage men in their own health and wellbeing but the impact of the programme has been significant.
“The weight loss results speak for themselves, as well as the positive mental health benefits that social interaction and enjoyment bring.”
For more information, or to join a league near you, please visit www.manvfatfootball.org. The only thing you have to lose is weight!