'Fat' Northampton footballers take on national competition to mark weight-loss league's anniversary

The three ManvFat Northampton squads who travelled to Manchester City for the ManvFat Festival
The three ManvFat Northampton squads who travelled to Manchester City for the ManvFat Festival

Footballers from Northampton whose league is decided on goals scored and weight lost got to test themselves against players from across the country last weekend.

ManvFat is decided both points won and pounds lost - players can score extra goals for every week they lose weight, as well as for hitting bigger targets like losing five or ten per cent of their body weight in a season.

Choux Army prepare for one of their matches

Choux Army prepare for one of their matches

ManvFat Northampton sent 20 players in three teams to compete in the national ManvFat Festival at Manchester City's world-class training base on Saturday, July 20.

Thom Cosgrove, 30, from East Hunsbury, said: “It was an amazing experience to take part in our first national tournament at such an amazing facility, using the same changing rooms and training pitches used by some of the world’s best players.

“I captained one of the teams, Choux Army, which was a play on words of the Cobblers’ moniker and to be able to showcase our talents and weight loss on a national stage was incredible and a day I’ll never forget.

“The league has been hugely successful and made a massive impact on the lives of those who take part every week.”

Choux Army. Back row: Thom Cosgrove; Antony Witheyman; Craig Hackleton; Antonio Nacca; Jerry Metcalfe; John Merchant; Ade Harrison. Front row: Wayne Tuckfield; Rich Rate; Scott Dickens.

Choux Army. Back row: Thom Cosgrove; Antony Witheyman; Craig Hackleton; Antonio Nacca; Jerry Metcalfe; John Merchant; Ade Harrison. Front row: Wayne Tuckfield; Rich Rate; Scott Dickens.

Three squads from ManvFat Northampton headed to Manchester to take on ManvFat sides from across the UK, playing on the same pitches used by the Premier League champions at the Etihad Campus.

While two teams did not make it out of the group stages, Choux Army topped theirs without conceding a goal, but then went out in the last 32.

Choux Army goalkeeper Richard Rate, 49, of Abington, said: “At my age I didn’t think I’d ever be playing regular football again, but ManvFat has given me a new lease of life.

"I have met some great new friends, lost weight and am playing football twice a week.”

Choux Makers. Back row: Sarfraz Hussain; Mark Buckley; Sam Spencer; Reese Hughes; Neil Howard; Lester Cupples; Antony Haase. Front row: Shaun Turner; Dominic Robinson; Stuart Ellis.

Choux Makers. Back row: Sarfraz Hussain; Mark Buckley; Sam Spencer; Reese Hughes; Neil Howard; Lester Cupples; Antony Haase. Front row: Shaun Turner; Dominic Robinson; Stuart Ellis.

ManvFat Northampton has doubled in size since it started in July, 2018, with three 14-week seasons so far.

The Tuesday night six-a-side league at Goals Northampton in Mereway has proved so popular that members meet up on Sundays for another hour of football on up to three pitches.

For the players, the social and mental benefits of playing football without being put off for being overweight is just as important as the physical ones.

Reese Hughes, 37, from Delapre, who played for one of the other Northampton teams, Choux Makers, added: “I moved to Northampton nine years ago, away from family and friends.

"Due to long hours at work and a young family I never really met many people here.

"I’ve also suffered from anxiety, so going out with lots of people I don’t know can be difficult.

“I’ve always loved playing football though, and despite being anxious at first, I now have a group I can call friends.

"That isn’t just my team-mates – everyone is so friendly and welcoming. It’s a great atmosphere and a brilliant thing to be part of.”

ManvFat is open to men over the age of 18 with a BMI of 27.5 or above, with the Northampton league having a wide range of ages and starting weights.

Find out more about the league, or register to become a player, by visiting www.manvfatfootball.org/northampton.