Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fighting the Fat on Football Field

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fighting the Fat on Football Field

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Meechan Reporter

FOOTBALL fans hoping to fight the flab can join a new league which awards players points for losing weight.

The league, which is launching in the North East for the first time, has helped 95% of participants slim down around the country.

Man v Fat has been running weight-loss football leagues in other parts of England for two years but is making its debut in Newcastle and Sunderland this month.

The organisation aims to encourage overweight men to shed pounds at a healthy rate by playing football.

And, thanks to Sport England funding, it is free for players to enter. Other than a small deposit, there are no subs to pay.

Man v Fat Football has been hailed for its success, and is now officially endorsed by the Football Association. Director and founder Andrew Shanahan is one of Man v Fat football's own success stories. In his own words, he went from being "morbidly obese" to healthy after setting up his first league in 2014.

"95% who join up lose weight," said Andrew, who went from 17.5 stone to just over 12 stone after launching the league.

"The average is two stone over a 14-week season. Some of the guys massively overshoot that - we've had guys who have lost 25% of their body weight doing the league. We like to see healthy weight loss - one to two lbs a week."

The league works just like any other, except as well as points for wins, teams get bonus goals for individual and group weight loss. Men who are out of shape but want to play football could find Man v Fat a more welcoming route to health than joining general leagues, which Andrew says are not a level playing field for those who are not already fit.

Andrew, 39, said: "If you're carrying a bit of extra weight, and your only option is your local Powerleague, they're all whippets. You're either in goal or thinking, 'what can I do here?'. This is a chance to be any man."

Now Man v Fat has won funding to expand to other parts of Britain, so leagues have been launched this week in Newcastle and Sunderland, which will be free for players to enter. …

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