FIT FANS is a collaboration between the Football Association of Wales and the EFL Trust, supported by funding from the Welsh Government’s Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales programme.
Football fans between the ages of 35 and 65 will be able to join the 12-week healthy lifestyle programme. The free scheme will be delivered by the charity arms of Welsh football clubs and their community coaching team to groups of up to 30 people hoping to lose weight.
Participants are encouraged to make long-term behavioral changes by incorporating physical activity and healthy eating into their daily lives. The course includes exercise sessions, classes to improve eating habits and pedometer-based walking exercises during the week.
The program ran its first classes in Wales in Cardiff City, Newport County and Swansea City, with Wrexham, Aberystwyth Town and Caernarfon following next month.
Around 1.5 million adults in Wales are overweight or obese, with higher rates in the most deprived areas. The new program is part of Healthy Weight: A Healthy Wales, the Welsh Government’s long-term strategy to prevent and reduce obesity in Wales.
Speaking at the Cardiff City Stadium launch event, Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynn Neagle, said:
A healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of long-term health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
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 program is a great way to help football fans improve their health at their local club.
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said:
It’s a great way for football fans to come together to make a positive change for their lifestyle and health – stronger together. As a government, our aim is to encourage more people to take part in sport and active recreation and to do enough exercise to see significant health benefits. It’s great to see that these classes will be available at many football stadiums in Wales – and I wish those taking part well on their journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Kathy Abraham, chief executive of the EFL Trust, said:
Through the unique appeal of football and the power of the club badge, FIT FANS successfully engages people who need help to improve their health but are not motivated by fitness or countless commercial weight loss programs. We are excited to be working with the Football Association of Wales and the Welsh Government to bring FIT FANS into football communities across the country.
Ellery Williams of the Football Association of Wales said:
Here at the FAW, we believe there is huge potential for clubs in Cymru to become hubs for public health. We are committed to doing what we can to support clubs to realize this potential and the Fit Fans program is an important element of this. Through the program, fans can come together, get fitter, healthier and make new friends, all in a football family environment.
Gavin Hawkey, director of the Cardiff City FC Community Foundation, said:
Football clubs are at the heart of their communities. At Cardiff City FC we use the power of the club to change lives. We are pleased to collaborate with partners to deliver this innovative project that will inspire healthier lifestyles and improve well-being in our communities.
Further information on how to participate can be found at participating clubs or at FIT FANS.