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The Rotherham football club cutting the calories

Three quarters of people in Rotherham, South Yorkshire are either overweight or obese – the highest level in England – but an innovative football team is helping overweight men get into shape and shed the pounds, all while playing their favourite sport. It’s called MAN v FAT and the men on the team earn points for how much weight they lose, as well as any goals they score.

Andrew Shanahan from MAN v FAT tells FitPro, “MAN v FAT Football is a 14-week, six-a-side football league that is exclusively for overweight and obese men. We want football to be available to all men, regardless of their size, their level of fitness or how long it’s been since they kicked a ball.

“The unique thing about our leagues is that all our players weigh in before they play their game. By losing weight as a team, and as an individual, they score bonus scale goals for their team. We then add that to the pitch score from the 30-minute game they play and that gives us our overall score. One of the best things about the league is that we have every single skill level represented and every single size of man.”

On the novel scoring system designed to help motivate the players, Shanahan adds, “Scoring goals for weight loss is incredibly motivating for the players. The other thing is that it means that players who maybe don’t feel ready to contribute on the pitch – whether this is because of disability or mobility issues – can still be a very valuable member of their team by focusing on their weight loss. Over time, as their weight reduces, they may feel comfortable getting onto the pitch. We see this time and again in the leagues – players who would never have imagined being part of a football team again who, after a season, are amazed at how much they’re playing and getting from the leagues.”

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