Well, that was some tournament, eh? We'll all probably remember Euro 2020 for some time.
And while Gareth Southgate's England side picked up a legion of fans previously disinterested in the game, they've also inspired people back onto football pitches across the country to play for themselves.
That's the beauty of football: its simplicity. All you need is a ball, somewhere to play, and a few willing participants.
That's part of the success of MAN v FAT, the UK’s leading men’s weight loss programme. It combines a desire to lose weight with a love of football and, well, that's it.
It's not a programme that judges on technical ability; it's about trying to find a way of making losing weight more fun. Over 5,000 men participate every week in a COVID-safe manner – with individuals as well as teams able to sign up – and 90% of participants lose weight.
Almost 90 MAN v FAT leagues are running already, with a further 30 going live this summer.
Those who sign up take part in training to improve their football ability, and get tips on how best to approach losing weight, but they're given the responsibility to do it themselves. It's not a boot camp, it's a football league.
Here are some of the stars of the season so far:
Coach: Emma Evans (Basingstoke)
Emma started coaching at our MAN v FAT Football Basingstoke Club in February 2020 and delivered just two sessions before COVID-19 came to the UK, and forced MAN v FAT to stop running their leagues.
Despite that setback, Emma continued to keep the community at Basingstoke together with regular updates to players and some lockdown challenges.
When the club returned earlier this year, Emma picked up where she left off using her recently achieved first class honours degree in Human Nutrition to guide the 63 players in Basingstoke to a combined loss of 220kg after just 10 weeks.
MAN v FAT Football in Basingstoke continues to go from strength to strength, not only down to Hampshire County Council’s funding for new players, but also down to having a great coach like Emma.
Individual/Player: Mark Lamb (Oldbury)
Mark lost an incredible 9st 6lbs with MAN v FAT after a concerted effort to get back into shape. Having battled with his weight throughout his life, Mark used his MAN v FAT sessions to regain his mojo and find the energy he wanted to be able to enjoy his time with his children.
“The support of my team-mates and an open forum to talk about the good and bad points of weight loss without fear of judgement has been incredibly helpful in my weight loss journey," he said.
“It works because it gives men a chance to be open, and not feel judged. I used to worry about going to gyms, etc., as I was worried people were staring. But with MAN v FAT Football, you can feel confident with every small step.”
Team: FC (Fat Club) Schalke (Lincoln)
After finishing rock bottom in season one of the Lincoln MAN v FAT Football league, a few new players and a name change from Lincoln OB City to FC (Fat Club) Schalke was clearly what the boys in blue needed.
Storming to the season two league title-winning nine of 10 games, they have lost more than a third of the whole Lincoln league’s weight with an incredible 140kg (22 stone) in the first 11 weeks!
The three original players from last season, Jamie Parsons, Kieran Money and Andrew Mason have been joined by David Milligan, Antony Rowe, Kane Bardill, Nathaniel Bowcock, Carl Blow, Will Craft and star man Matthieu Rogers who has lost over 15% of his body weight in his first season.
After winning their first league title FC (Fat Club) Schalke are looking to make it a league and cup double having made a winning start in the cup last week. Surely a league and cup double would see admiring glances from their Bundesliga 2. namesakes FC Schalke 04?!
Think you could match any of that? You can sign up to play a weekly game of football in a MAN v FAT league if you have a BMI of 27.5 or over, and you’ll get expert advice on how to lose weight – with the rest left up to you. The leagues are about wanting to lose weight and enjoying football, not having pressure to stick to strict regimens. You’re not signing up for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in 1996, after all.
Joining up also gives you access to SilverCloud, an online mental health and wellbeing app, and The Other Room Gym, an online gym with a wide range of classes, as well as becoming part of a supportive community of thousands on the MAN v FAT Facebook page. You can sign up to play with MAN v FAT from just £27.50 a month at www.manvfatfootball.org – or find out more on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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