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For the first in MyLocalPitch’s ‘Humans of Grassroots Sport’ series we spoke with Ben Gallon of ManvFat about the vital role football has played in men losing weight…..
ManVFat has been a big part of my life and continues to be hugely rewarding. The initiative launched to provide help for men trying to lose weight and provide an environment in which to do so.
If someone is struggling with their weight it’s just not that easy to get into a football league if all your mates are fit and healthy. ManvFat removed any barriers to entry to organise football games to bring people together with a common goal of weight loss.
My ManvFat journey began as a player after my brother came across the initiative. It was December 2015 and he called me up to say there was this football league starting near Solihull to help people lose weight in the New Year.
I got the last league entry for a 14 week season in which I set the individual record for the most weight lost – as well as our team.
Three or four weeks into our next season, ManvFat were looking for coaches and people to help with running the leagues. Having hit my weight-loss goal and becoming comfortable with my body, I decided to hang up my astros and dedicate my time to helping manage the league.
ManvFat is all about hitting individual goals and I felt ready for another challenge. From week one I loved it and the atmosphere was incredible. There is a superb support network in place for the players all the way from registration to the actual games.
We’re all about inclusivity and giving people a place to play where they feel comfortable. You might feel your mates are all fitter and these leagues are a way to bring similar-minded people together for competitive fixtures.
The scene of 60 blokes registering for a new week was massively uplifting having seen the first fledgling weeks of the project. There are a lot of nerves at the beginning, before quickly disappearing as people get to know each other and realise they are all there for the same reasons.
Players have their own goals, but teamwork is vital as there is a certain amount of accountability in losing weight. It’s certainly competitive on and off the pitch, but many friendships have flourished away from the game. When I started there was one league and there’s 34 now up and running.
A big reason for that is people loving the idea and setting their own local versions up. Players door knock and get people to sign up in the local area.
BY - Will Chrimes
12 January 2018