Scoring a winner for men’s health

phto of the Black Puddings celebrate victory

A pioneering new programme to tackle men’s weight in the borough is already proving a winner with more than 400 sign ups since it launched.

Wigan Athletic Community Trust, Wigan Warriors Community Foundation, Wigan Council and Inspiring healthy lifestyles joined forces in June to launch ‘Lose Weight, Feel Great FOR MEN’ – a campaign to support weight loss through a selection of FREE 12 weeks fitness and nutrition programmes.

It gives men with a BMI over 25 an opportunity to kickstart their health, choosing from a FREE healthy menu of options.

As part of the campaign, the borough has signed up to the national MAN v FAT football leagues which are specifically aimed at encouraging men to lose weight by lacing up their boots and getting on the pitch.

This week, Monday night TV was ditched in favour of the first league games at the Soccerdome in Wigan where an 80-strong group took to the pitches.

Men’s health engagement co-ordinator for Wigan Athletic Community Trust, Andy Miller, who runs the sessions, explains: “The sessions are aimed at overweight men who want to reignite their love for football in order to help them to get fitter.

“Football is a great all-round form of exercise because it involves so many different types of movement. It’s also a great way to motivate people by building up a team-spirit and a competitive edge.”

After signing up, the men were randomly allocated into different teams of 10 and with names like The Black PuddingsBlue Whales and 50 Stones of White it’s clear the lads are game for a laugh.

Over the next 14 Mondays the teams will play out a round robin tournament to decide the MAN v FAT champs.

The game may be football but the ultimate goal is to lose weight.

“Before each match the team members sign in and get weighed,” said Andy. “They can win points for scoring goals in a match and for losing weight. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the tournament is the winner.

“As well as the football matches, the guys can access diet, nutrition and exercise advice online that really helps them throughout the week.”

Sam Mott, 32, from Scot Lane, signed up and was on the winning side when his team Red and Fed FC played their first match.

“It’s a brilliant idea,” said Sam. “I’ve always been a big fan of football and loved playing when I was bit younger. As I’ve got older I have put a bit of weight on so this seemed like the perfect solution. I didn’t know any of the other guys before the first session but we’ve already bonded as a team and it was great to get a win in our first game. It’s competitive, but everyone’s really friendly, so it was a great laugh as well.”

While for Keith Farnworth, 63, from Wigan it was the obvious choice.

“I have tried lots of different types of exercise but I don’t really want to go to the gym. I haven’t got a six pack, I’ve got twelve pack! But I’ve always liked playing football so this is ideal. You can meet new people and challenge yourself. I haven’t set myself a weight target, I just want to lose as much as I can and if the first session is anything to go by, I think it’s going to work.”

Lose Weight Feel Great FOR MEN is the first time the borough’s sporting clubs have come together to tackle the issue of weight loss in men.

Wigan Council’s lead member for leisure and public health, Councillor Jim Moodie, said:“Bringing so many partners together makes this a truly pioneering programme. MAN v FAT is a great initiative that’s really captured the imagination of some the borough’s football fans. It really is the perfect combination, if you like the game and want to lose weight. In Wigan Borough we are committed to improving the quality of life for all members of the community and keeping fit and staying in shape is one great way of doing this. Regular exercise keeps you healthy, improves your wellbeing and can really give your self-confidence a boost.”

For more information text ‘FIT’ and your name to 87800, call 01942 496 496 or visit