A COMMUNITY PROJECT held by Bradford City Football Club, run as part of a national Football League campaign, is aiming to improve the physical and mental well-being of people in the city.

FIT BANTAMS is part of the EFL Trust’s FIT FANS programme, which is supported by 30 clubs in England and is powered by over £2.25 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England.

The Bantams project, run by the Bradford City Community Foundation’s Community Manager, Adam Thirsk, and its Premier League Primary Stars Coordinator, Gareth Davis, involves physical activities which help participants to be healthy and to lose weight, as well as initiatives to improve people’s mental health.

“The FIT BANTAMS project is more than just a weight-loss programme, it’s more like a well-being session”, says Adam, who has been with the Community Foundation for 14 years.

“It’s a 12-week programme which inspires people to be healthier and happier and to make small changes.

“Bradford was identified as an ‘in-need’ area - due to issues with obesity and physical health. That’s one reason why we started this mindset-changing programme."

The project is aimed at people aged between 35 and 60, with sessions held for both male and female groups.

“We run the female cohort on Mondays and the male cohort on Wednesdays. The male sessions are at Valley Parade, while the female sessions are at the Cedar Court Hotel on Mayo Avenue.

“The first 45 minutes of the sessions are educational, where we have discussions on nutrition and how small changes can help with well-being and mental health.

“Then we have a ‘half-time’ break before our practical session, where we have exercise including boxercise and five-a-side football, which are suitable for all members of the programme."

Ian Ormondroyd, Chief Executive of Bradford City Community Foundation, says the project has been successful.

Bradford-born Ormondroyd, an ex-professional footballer who had two spells with his home-town club, as well as playing for Aston Villa, Derby and Leicester amongst others, said, "The response to the FIT BANTAMS project has been really good.

"Projects like this are hard to get off the ground, but it's gone really well. We get a great turn-out for both male and female groups and it will hopefully get even better going forward.

"It has been said that Bradford is a city with high obesity rates and health problems, so it's really important for us to have this here. Adam and Gareth are great and the Community Foundation has grown a lot in the 20 years I've been here.

"We started out doing things like after-school clubs and activities and now we're expanding onto projects like this."

Gillian Brown, one member of the female FIT BANTAMS group, said, "The project helps us to make healthier lifestyle choices. We all have the same mindset and all put in what we can.

"Moving forward, the project is hoping to start another two cohorts for men and women and to get even more people involved."