Entering the season at a combined 9323kg, the 87 players contesting Perth’s first MAN v FAT soccer league don’t fit the mould of your average athlete.
But after shedding 121.5kg in just three weeks, they are well on their way to getting there.
MAN v FAT combines soccer with The Biggest Loser-style weekly weigh-ins to help overweight men kicks goals on and off the field.
Participants — restricted to men with a body mass index (BMI) of 27.5 or higher — are assigned to a six-a-side soccer team and play one match a week.
Each player weighs in at the start of the season and again before every game. Every player to lose weight earns their side a half-goal head start — but tipping the scales heavier than the week before is an own goal and a boost to your opponent. Losing weight for three consecutive weeks is rewarded with a hat-trick, as is each time you lose 5 per cent of your starting weight.
The innovative concept gets men back into a sport they love and encourages them to eat less, move more and stay accountable to their teammates.
In just 2 1/2 years it has helped UK men trim more than 50,000kg from their waistlines.
With the support of UWA Sport, it is now being trialled in Perth by School of Human Sciences PhD candidate Tim Budden — and the early results are so promising Healthway has already committed $375,000 in funding to help establish MAN v FAT leagues across the State.
“Playing one game of soccer a week doesn’t really contribute that much to weight loss, but the genius of this program is winning is really decided by what you and your teammates do during the week between matches,” Mr Budden said.
“The guys get a huge sense of camaraderie from each other and don’t want to let their team or themselves down which motivates them to lose weight.”
Paul Harrickie, 46, travels nearly two hours from Australind to play for his side Burnley Calories each week.
"I love my beer, but since this has started I’ve only had three pints in three and a half weeks and I’m eating more salad than ever.
“I’ve also got a Fitbit and have started to walk as much as possible.
“On the long weekend I did 18,000 steps each day.
“The program is brilliant.
“You are playing soccer, making friends and losing weight.”
Mr Harrickie says his on and off-field efforts have seen him drop 5.25kg, and the education assistant is second on the overall weight-loss leader board.
Originally published on PerthNow
UWA Sport Graduate Officer - Marketing, Communication and Events