Extra Time: MAN v FAT XIs

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We know that, once members have made good progress with their weight loss, there’s an appetite for additional football opportunities.

In the last couple of years, MAN v FAT has offered a national XIs programme, giving clubs the chance to participate in eleven a side football.

We spoke to Jake Garratt, coach at MAN v FAT Lincoln to find out how the club have embraced the XIs programme.

What was the motivation to start an XIs team at Lincoln?
We saw quite a few other MAN v FAT clubs nearby playing 11s and we wanted to get involved to give the lads more opportunities to play football outside of our regular MAN v FAT sessions.

Additionally, we wanted to give players the best chance of playing on a level playing field. I personally had found my playing time limited for the past 4 seasons in Sunday League simply because I wasn’t fit enough and couldn’t keep up with the pace of it.

This is true for a lot of our players who had stopped playing regular 11-a-side football 10 to 15 years ago and they have now found a route back in to regular, competitive 11-a-side football.

How did you get the community involved besides just playing?When we first started the team in May 2021, I appointed a captain and a vice captain to help run the team and also got another player to help with the finances.

Since then the club has evolved massively and we formed the first Lincoln MAN v FAT FC committee in March 2022. We now have a committee of 10 which includes the Chairman, First Team Manager, Development Team Manager, Secretary, Treasurer, Social Media & Communications Manager, Social Secretary and 4 Player Representatives.

All of the committee members, apart from the 2 managers are voted in by their peers, this ensures everyone who is involved with Lincoln XIs gets their say on who runs their club.

What were the issues in getting organised?
There were a few issues when we first started, trying to find a home ground, trying to find a regular pitch for training sessions, making sure we had enough money to cover the costs for pitch hire.

However, the biggest issue was finding a kit supplier that could do 2 things; 1. supply sizes that fitted all of our players 2. supply high quality bespoke kits. It was important to me that everyone was included and could wear the exact same kit as their teammates.

We recently joined forces with industry leading sportswear provider O’Neills who will be supplying all of our kits and training wear going forward. Paul Baker, who runs MAN v FAT XI’s was a huge help in getting organised and certainly made the whole set up much easier.

How has XIs brought the community together?
The XIs has had a huge impact on the community, we currently have 80 active MAN v FAT members involved within our XIs set up which ranges from just coming to training on a Friday evening to playing every single Sunday that there is a game.

We currently have 2 teams, with the first team playing in the MAN v FAT XIs National Tournament and are looking at adding a third team from 2024/25 to enable more game time for the players.

Outside of the football is where the club really shines, since we formed in 2021 we have raised over £7,500 for local charities including LIVES, the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust and Lincoln Foodbank.

May 2024 will be the third time we play our annual charity game at Lincoln City FC’s ground and we hope to break the £10,000 barrier.

In addition to the money we have raised, we also work with St. Swithin’s Church in Lincoln on their Love Your Neighbour campaign where we collected Easter Eggs and Christmas presents that are then distributed to those in need across Lincoln.

Away from charity, we like to recognise player achievements with an annual awards night, but we don’t just recognise achievements on the pitch, we also recognise those off it too with the outstanding contribution award.

We also like to get family involved too, we always encourage our players to bring their better halves to our Christmas Party and the whole family to our yearly Family Fun Day.

Naturally, friendship groups have formed and groups have been on holiday together, been to weddings, play extra football outside of MAN v FAT and 5 of us have tattoos!

All in all, the XIs has benefited the Lincoln club massively and in truth has kept some of the players engaged and in MAN v FAT as a whole.

Do you fancy a run at winning the title?
Absolutely, there is no point in entering a national competition just to take part. So far we have gone one stage further each year and at the time of writing are about to play our quarter final ties against Margate. Hopefully we can do enough to go all the way.


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