This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, and to highlight the positive effects football can have on mental health we caught up with MAN v FAT Regional Manager for the South East, Dan Church, to find out how their small-sided leagues are making a big impact.
MAN v FAT was founded in 2014 by Andrew Shanahan who, as a man trying to lose weight, realised that the offer of slimming clubs out there at the time tended to be typically female oriented.
In 2015, we took MAN v FAT into the real world with the launch of MAN v FAT Football - a football league exclusively for overweight men who want to lose weight. Uniquely, players are rewarded not just for winning games but for losing weight too, with your weekly weight loss counting towards your team’s goals.
Since then, we’ve launched over 80 MAN v FAT Football leagues across the UK, including a few right here in Sussex. We have over 4,000 men actively participating in the leagues across the country and, with new league locations planned in the future, this number is only going to climb.
Through the football leagues MAN v FAT has helped thousands of men across the country not only in a physical capacity but also with their mental wellbeing.
Speaking from my own experience, before I first started my journey as a 25 stone player at MAN v FAT Football back in 2018, I was in a very dark place battling my own mental health.
Being severely obese plays a massive part on your mental health, I was held back from doing so many things in life because of the thoughts I was having that people were looking, laughing and judging me because of my size.
MAN v FAT Football provided a focus which helped me turn my life around. The camaraderie between the guys, the family type feel you get from being part of a group of guys who are in the same position as you are and fighting the battle against fat together is a feeling which is indescribable.
The competitive - but friendly - nature of the leagues, and the accountability to your teammates with your weight loss means that some really close friendships develop.
First and foremost, the leagues are about steering men in the right direction with their weight loss, but there have been so many other mental health and general wellbeing improvements for men participating in the programme.
We think it’s really important that guys understand that you will be joining a like-minded community and that the other men in the leagues are supportive and understanding - they’ve all been in the same position in the past and have faced the same worries, too. Once men get started, they wonder why they have left it so long!
Read more of Dan’s personal MAN v FAT Football journey: Amazing Loser Dan Church
To find out more about the leagues and how they can help improve your mental as well as physical health please visit MAN v FAT Football or contact:
MAN v FAT Football
T: 0345 163 0042