Rival fans battle it out to improve health
Published 10 August

A group of football fans representing nine London clubs have lost nearly 350 kilos between them in 12 weeks thanks to the award winning fanActiv programme.

The group of 130 fans representing Brentford, Charlton, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leyton Orient, QPR, Spurs and Watford took part in the intervention scheme, which aims to use new technology and fan rivalry to improve the health and wellbeing of men over 35, classed as overweight and inactive.

The results have been fantastic
Hugh Thompson
fanActiv Coordinator

The 12-week programme funded by the NHS and Healthy London Partnership and delivered by the charitable trusts of the clubs, combined weekly physical activity sessions with workshops on diet and nutrition.

The trusts teamed up with other sports to deliver a variety of activities including an American Football session with coaches from the Jackson Jaguars who played at Wembley in last season’s NFL.

Participating fans were given fitbits at the start of the programme and used a specially created smartphone app to log their daily steps into a league table and ‘play’ for their clubs.

The clubs also ran matchday awareness campaigns as part of Fan Activ using their social media and matchday communications to get across messages to fans about how to improve their health and wellbeing.

Having the competition between fans was brilliant...

FanActiv coordinator Hugh Thompson said: “Fan Activ demonstrates how fan rivalry and new technology can be used in an innovative way to engage men in physical activity and at the same time help them learn the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The results in terms of the improvements to health and fitness have been fantastic. However, the social connections made withn, and between, the different groups has also been really important."

Crystal Palace fan John Matthews not only lost nearly three stones during the programme but also saw how FanActiv inspired the rest of his family to lose weight and adopt healthier lifestyles.

The 51-year-old revealed: “We’ve made some big changes as a family. Ready meals have been banned, we make our own wholemeal bread and fizzy drinks have been swapped for water. My stepson has lost over two stone, is more active and much more alert as a result.

I even bought my wife a Fitbit for her birthday so she could join me to do my 10,000 steps every day. I feel confident that I can maintain a long-term healthy lifestyle with my family. It feels like a habit now.”

Ash Packer, a Brentford fan who lost 16 kilos on the programme, put his success down to being motivated by competition with rival fans.

“Having the competition between the fans was a big motivator. We all had our Fitbits and could go on the app to see how we were doing against the other clubs. When you saw how many steps they were doing it made you want to do more walking to get ahead of them!”

The latest FanActiv programme followed a successful pilot project in 2016 with fans from Brentford, Fulham and Spurs, which won the Best Innovative Project at the Beyond Sports Award and London Sport’s 2016 ‘Making it Easier’ award.

Keep up to date with the latest by following FanActiv on twitter

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Arsenal in the Community Barnet Football Club Brentford FC Community Sports Trust Charlton Athletic Community Trust The Chelsea Foundation The Crystal Palace FC Foundation Dagenham and Redbridge Community Trust Fulham Football Club Foundation Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme Millwall Community Trust Tottenham Hotspur Foundation QPR in the Community Trust Watford Community Trust West Ham United Community Sports Trust AFC Wimbledon Foundation