One of our longest-serving participants on our Fans Fighting Cancer programme, Jan, spoke to us about her time with the Foundation:
“I first got involved with United with the pitch-side fitness sessions at Bramall Lane. I thought I had a bit of a drinking problem, so I’d been to another group, and I said, “yeah I’m getting that under control, but I need to get physically active” and they recommended the Foundation’s programme. I’ve stayed ever since.”
Fans FC is a free programme run in conjunction with Sheffield Hospitals Charity and NHS Charities Together that consists of 18 weekly sessions. Our variety of sessions focus on physical and mental wellbeing for people diagnosed with cancer and/or other long-term illnesses and people affected by cancer (family and friends). Sessions take place both virtually and face-to-face to ensure everyone can get the help they need.
Jan added: “It’s a very good programme at the present time, and it’s getting better as the years go on. I got really depressed during the lockdowns, with not being able to go outside, so doing the programme online during those times really helped me with my mental health. That combined with the physical activities has really improved my overall health.”
“Through Fans FC I’ve been able to get involved with other programmes at the Foundation, particularly helping the younger participants. I’m nearly a senior citizen but I love playing football! That’s my passion at the moment and I’m passionate about getting younger women and girls involved in football because when I was young, I felt like an outsider. When I was growing up, if I wanted to play football I had to play with the lads in the street, and of course there was no way to carry that on professionally. You couldn’t do it at school or anything. I didn’t play for ages, and I think I missed out on quite a bit, particularly getting into a women’s football league. It’s been great seeing the women’s Euros this past summer and I hope we can get more women joining in with our Fans FC sessions.”
While football first got Jan interested in Fans FC, Jan says there’s so much more to it than that: “It’s not just all about football. In the past I’ve done seated dance, pilates, badminton, tennis and gone on lots of walks. There’s plenty of variety for everyone to get involved. I’m loving it.”