A group of Brentford and Derby County fans gather together; they’re getting ready for kick-off. However, they're not at Griffin Park – instead, the group are warming up at Goals Soccer Centre in Osterley. And, rather than watching football, they're playing it.
‘fanActiv’ is a health project that encourages football fans across London to become active and live healthier lifestyles. In practical terms, it means the fans doing something they love: playing five-a-side football. Brentford FC Community Sports Trust has been running the course for two years and offers weight management, exercise and nutritional support for fans. The project also offers five-a-side football matches, with Brentford fans playing against fans from rival clubs. One such match took place when The Bees took on Derby last month.
“I lost four stone,” said Jay Hunt, who joined the project in February. “It’s a great way to meet new people and get active.”
As his team member is subbed, Jay runs onto the pitch – within minutes of playing – he scores.
Marc Byrne joined the project last year and believes it offers a unique alternative:
“It’s great for men who aren’t typically inclined to go to the gym,” he said. “Now, exercise no longer feels like a chore and you’re doing something you love. We enjoyed the project so much we continued playing five-a-side after the course had finished.”
This is exactly the project’s aim: for participants to continue exercising long after the course has finished.
Neil Young, the Course Organiser, said: “We have been so pleased with the progress our Brentford fans have made on each of the fanActiv courses. On average, each of the 45 fans have lost a stone in weight. As Jay and Marc said, they’re now organising their own five-a-side on a weekly basis. It has given us the confidence to plan more adult healthy lifestyles courses for the future.”
After 60 minutes of tackles, goals and passes the match is over – the Brentford side, much to the delight of the players, have won. fanActiv was established to channel fans’ passion for football into exercise; the match between Brentford and Derby fans certainly proved that.
fanActiv will return in 2018. For more information please call Neil on 020 8326 7048 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.