A new health project entitled European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) working with overweight football fans from top clubs across Europe celebrated the achievements of UK men participating in the first year of the project at an inaugural 5-a-side tournament.
Teams from Arsenal, Everton, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Stoke City battled it out to be crowned champions of England at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus on the afternoon of Saturday 4th June.
In the searing Manchester heat, Arsenal prevailed despite a difficult start in their final fixture against rivals Stoke. The Gunners looked to be strolling to victory after winning their first three games without conceding a single goal. However two early goals from the Potters put them on the back foot and with Newcastle ahead against Everton, goal difference looked to be the only thing separating the top two teams in the inaugural EuroFIT tournament.
A controversial decision for the Toffees earned them a late draw to hand Arsenal the title but not before Arsenal’s superior passing ability had shone through with the London club eventually seeing off Stoke in a thrilling 7-3 victory.
Many of the players involved in the tournament led inactive lifestyles before joining the EuroFIT programme, but with a little help from club coaches, they have been given the opportunity to score goals for their favourite team at iconic stadiums such as St James’ Park and Emirates Stadium.
Over the course of the 12 week programme, which started in Autumn 2015, men learnt new skills to make changes in their everyday life, aiming to become more active, reduce sitting time and improve their diet. They also learnt how to make these new behaviours stick for good. To kick off these changes, men were given a new device called a SitFIT™ which provides real-time feedback on how much time individuals spend sitting and how much time is spent moving around.
Researchers from 12 European academic institutions and SME’s are currently evaluating EuroFIT in a multi-centre, randomised controlled trial in football clubs across the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the Premier League clubs mentioned above, to verify its impact on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, physical and mental health.
Dr. Matthew Philpott, Executive Director of the European Healthy Stadia Network, comments:
“A huge congratulations to all the clubs and players for taking part in today’s tournament. The afternoon was filled with excitement and celebration, and went right to the wire.”
“Men are less likely to engage in positive lifestyle change, but EuroFIT harnesses the already established loyalty and attachment many men feel towards their football clubs to encourage significant levels of behaviour change.”
“The EuroFIT project is helping fans to improve their physical activity levels, decrease the amount of time they spend sitting down, and improve their diet. Healthy fans make healthy clubs.”
Professor Sally Wyke, Institute of Health & Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, comments:
“The guys that have done the programme are making huge progress to a healthier life. The tournament was testament to their commitment to making healthy lifestyles a reality for them and their families. The clubs’ community organisations are doing great work.”
Note to Editors:
- EuroFIT is funded by the EU’s Framework Programme Seven: 602170, and is supported by leading professional football clubs including Dutch Eredivisie, English Premier League, Portuguese Primeira Liga, and Norweigian Tippe-ligaen. The project bid was developed by the consortium over 12 months and received backing from UEFA and the World Heart Federation. The project will conclude in late 2018.
- The UK tournament has been coordinated by the European Healthy Stadia Network and funded by the University of Glasgow’s Knowledge Exchange Fund and the Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Account.
- In the WHO European Region physical inactivity accounts for around a million deaths per year (about 10% of the total). High levels of sedentary behaviour are associated with adverse health outcomes and increased mortality. Inactivity and sedentary behaviour cluster together with other risk factors for ill health such as poor diet and obesity.
- For more information on the EuroFIT project and the different partners involved, please visit http://eurofitfp7.eu or follow them on Twitter @eurofitFP7
Further photos from tournament available on request
For more information, please contact:
Matthew Philpott, Executive Director Healthy Stadia
T: 0151 237 2686