“I was obese and facing a knee operation, which I only really needed because of my weight,” says builder Ben Gallon.
“I saw MAN v FAT footballers and thought I’d give it a go with my brother. I love football and I desperately needed to lose weight.”
Ben became one of the first people to join MAN v FAT footballers when he joined the first free league in Solihull in January 2016.
Current state of play
His story is a familiar one among men in the UK.
More than 67% of men are overweight or obese, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures.
By using the power and popularity of football, though, more and more men are now losing weight and experiencing the benefits associated with getting active.
The only thing you have to lose by joining the league is weight
Andrew Shanahan, managing director, MAN v FAT Football
More than 4,500 players have joined the leagues and lost nearly 50 tons of weight between them since the launch over 18 months ago.
Across the leagues, more than 90% of players lose weight and 93% report health improvements.
The impact is clear – which is why we, along with the Football Association, are now backing 20 MAN v FAT Football leagues starting in September.
We are investing £190,000 of National Lottery funding to provide more opportunities for people to play.
Taking part will be free or subsidised, giving more than 1,200 inactive men the perfect opportunity to get back into sport and activity.
Andrew Shanahan, managing director of MAN v FAT Football, said, "We’ve seen how positive the leagues are as a way of supporting men who want to lose weight and get more active.
“What’s brilliant is that, because of this funding, we can bring these leagues without the normal fees for players, so the only thing you have to lose by joining the league is weight.”
It’s the taking part that counts
You don’t have to be brilliant at football to join in either.
Players can contribute simply by taking part and losing weight as the final result is settled by both goals scored and bonuses based on weight lost at the end of the match.
“After one season, I’d lost over 26% of my body weight and, unsurprisingly, my knee was no longer an issue,’ recalls Ben.
“I’ve since gone on to work as a coach with MAN v FAT Football as I believe it’s an amazing opportunity for men to get back into football – and get healthier.”