A new scheme to help fans get fit through their love of football has been officially launched in Wales.
FIT FANS is a collaboration between the Football Association of Wales and the English Football League Trust (EFL Trust), supported by funding from the Welsh Government’s ‘Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales’ programme.
Football fans aged between 35 and 65 will be able to join the 12-week healthy lifestyle programme. The free scheme will be delivered by the charitable arms of Welsh football clubs and their community coaching staff to groups of up to 30 people who are hoping to lose weight.
Participants are encouraged to make long term behavioural changes by incorporating physical activity and healthy eating into their daily lives. The course includes exercise sessions, classes on improving eating habits and pedometer-based walking exercise during the week.
The programme has delivered its first classes in Wales at Cardiff City, Newport County and Swansea City, with Wrexham, Aberystwyth Town and Caernarfon following next month.
About 1.5 million adults in Wales are overweight or obese, with higher levels in the most deprived areas. The new programme is part of Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales, the Welsh Government’s long-term strategy to prevent and reduce obesity in Wales.
Speaking at the launch event at the Cardiff City Stadium, the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, Lynne Neagle, said:
Being a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers.
If we want to reduce obesity, we need to use innovative ways to encourage more people to get fit and develop healthier lifestyles. The FIT FANS programme is a great way to help football fans improve their health at their local club.
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, said:
This is an excellent way for football fans to come together to make a positive change for their lifestyles and health – together stronger. As a government, our aim is to encourage more people to take part in sport and active recreation and to be taking enough exercise to see significant health benefits. It’s excellent to see that these classes will be available at many football stadiums across Wales – and I wish those taking part every success on their journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Cathy Abraham, CEO of EFL Trust, said:
Through the unique appeal of football and the power of the club badge, FIT FANS successfully engages people who need help improving their health but aren’t motivated by the gym or the myriad of commercial weight loss programmes. We’re thrilled to be working with the Football Association of Wales and the Welsh Government to bring FIT FANS to football communities across the country.
Eleri Williams from the Football Association of Wales said:
Here at the FAW, we believe that there is huge potential for clubs across Cymru to become centres of community wellness. We are committed to doing what we can to support clubs to harness that potential and the Fit Fans programme is an important element of that. Through the programme, fans can come together, get fitter, healthier and make new friends, all within the football family environment.
Gavin Hawkey, Director at Cardiff City FC Community Foundation, said:
Football clubs are at the heart of their communities. At Cardiff City FC we harness the power of the club to change lives. We’re delighted to collaborate with partners to deliver this innovative project which will inspire healthier lifestyles and improve wellbeing in our communities.
Further information on how to take part can be found through participating clubs or at FIT FANS.