A new weight-loss football program was launched on Wednesday night with almost 90 men signing up for a weekly weigh-in, including Football West’s Alex Novatsis.
The Man v Fat program, which is supported by Football West, kicked off at the University of Western Australia on Wednesday night.
The fully subscribed trial is the first of its kind in Australia and was set up by UWA School of Human Sciences PhD candidate Tim Budden to help men to lose weight and be more active.
The competition, which takes place at UWA’s Riley Oval, is seven-a-side and games are 15 minutes each half.
Participants in the Man v Fat program came from as far as Australind
The rules are similar to futsal but with a twist. All players are weighed in before each game and if three or more from a team have lost weight then they are awarded extra goals. However, if three or more have piled on a few kilos then they start their game with minus goals.
Players also get a handbook to record their exercise routine during the week and keep track of their food intake. Again, they are rewarded if they fill it in and penalised if they forget.
Budden said: “I think it went really well and a lot of the guys who came along were really talkative about why they were there.
“There was the kind of energy we hoped for and some interesting team names. We’re really excited for the next 14 weeks, I think we’re going to have a successful league.”
Budden said making it compulsory to fill in the daily meal and exercise log would stop players treating it as just another football competition.
“Yes, it’s a football league but it really is about weight loss and improving your health and it hopefully makes the players think about what they are eating.”
The information will be collected at the end of the competition for study, as will the psychological health indicators.
Football West Head of Member Services Alex Novatsis has his weigh-in
Budden said one council in the UK, where Man v Fat originated, conducted a study which revealed that 60 per cent of participants lost at least 5 per cent of their body weight.
“We want to beat that,” he said. “We have certificates when guys have 5-10 per cent weight loss. We’ll also have a trophy for the best team and a trophy for the ‘biggest loser’ as well.”
Budden said if funding comes through then he was “95 per cent” sure they would be able to open more leagues next year, possibly around the state.
Football West Head of Member Services Novatsis was one of the 88 people who put his name down for the 14-week Man v Fat program.
“It’s fantastic, we’ve got a lot of people who share the same goals who get the opportunity to push each other,” he said.
“There were guys from early 20s up to their 60s and three came all the way from Australind, a good two hours away.”
Novastis, a former State League player with Bayswater City and Floreat Athena, added: “Another great thing is it is all abilities – there are some people who have never played before. Teams are picked randomly so it’s the luck of the draw.”
Players log their food intake and exercise routine in the Man v Fat handbook
All participants recorded their height, weight and waist measurement at the start. So what did Novatsis tip the scales at and what does he want to get down to?
“I’m a little bit more than my playing days – officially I was 93.35kg. I want to get down to 78 so that’s about a kilo a week.
“I can’t speak highly of enough of what the program is trying to achieve. This is a trial and hopefully it is such a success and gets enough support that it can continue for more people to get involved and get healthy.”