Sunderland AFC and its official charity, Foundation of Light, have joined forces to help fans tackle their weight, get healthier and be happier through a new national initiative.
FIT FANS is a free 12-week health and fitness programme at the Stadium of Light. Starting on Thursday 16th January, FIT FANS will bring together SAFC supporters aged between 35-65 to take part in fun and engaging exercise around the Stadium site.
Sunderland AFC and the Foundation join 30 clubs in England taking part in the EFL Trust’s programme, which has been supported by over £2.25 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England and will aim to use the power of football to tackle obesity levels in over 10,000 fans across the UK.
The programme shows individuals how to:
- Improve their eating habits by reducing portion sizes and swapping fatty and sugary foods for fruit, vegetables and high fibre foods
- Achieve at least 45 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. They receive weekly exercise sessions at their club for 12 weeks, and follow a personal pedometer-based walking programme that encourages them to fit physical activity into their daily lives
- Use tried-and-tested behaviour change techniques to become more active and improve their diet. These include regular self-monitoring of their weight and pedometer step counts and setting SMART goals to make changes that can be sustained long term.
The free12-week programme gives fans unprecedented access to Sunderland AFC and unique chance to look behind the scenes.
FIT FANS is one of a number of initiatives in the North East and across England to tackle lower physical activity participation rates among people living on low incomes, which is one of Sport England’s key priorities.
36.4 million people (61.4% of England’s population) live within 10 miles of an EFL ground, with four in 10 residents within this catchment area falling into the most-deprived population groups.
Sport England has identified lower physical activity participation rates among people living on low incomes and that is why they have joined forces with the EFL Trust network to help people create a long-term healthy and active lifestyle.
FIT FANS is the operating name in England and Wales for Football Fans in Training, which was created in a Scotland by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Professional Football League Trust.
In 2011/12, a large scale randomised, controlled trial study showed that 12 months after the programme, men had lost an average of 5% of their starting weight by making gradual practical changes to their physical activity and diet, that they could keep up in their everyday lives.
Liz Barton-Jones, Head of Sport and Wellbeing at the Foundation of Light said “We are looking forward to welcoming our first cohort of FIT FANS to the Stadium of Light on Thursday. This free 12 week programme is a fantastic opportunity for Sunderland fans and will make a big difference to our local communities and supporters.”
Mike Evans, Director of Operations, EFL Trust said “FIT FANS is an example of our potential to make a really significant contribution to the health of our communities. We are excited by the prospect of rolling the programme our across out network and reaching many thousands of men and women.”
Patrick Brosnan, Sport England’s Football Lead said “We are delighted to see the success FIT FANS has had in its pilot phase at 5 EFL clubs in England and hope that the National Lottery funding to EFL Trust will go a long way in harnessing football fans’ love for the game to support more people to lead healthy and active lives.”
Nicky Reid, Chief Executive, SPFL Trust comments “We are delighted to have reached agreement with the EFL Trust to bring Football Fans in Training to clubs right across the EFL. The programme - which was developed in Scotland - has been life changing for thousands of men and women, in both the short and long-term. I am sure that thousands of football fans are going to love being part of the programme and are going to reap enormous rewards by being healthier and happier.”
To find out more and join other FIT FANS near you, visit www.efltrust.com/FITFANS.