Active Through Football Making An Impact

EVERYTHING we do at MFC Foundation is designed to make a positive impact on the people of Teesside and by extension make their communities a better place to live.

One such programme, Active Through Football, a nationwide initiative funded by the National Lottery and delivered by the Football Foundation in association with Sport England, is helping.

Validated research shows half of the adults in Middlesbrough do not achieve the government (Chief Medical Officer’s) recommended level of activity per week, and 1-in-3 do less than 30 minutes per week.

Delivered at a local level by MFC Foundation, the example we’re going to evidence here was designed to inspire the adults of North Ormesby and Newport wards within Middlesbrough to lead a more active lifestyle.

Despite the programme title, it isn’t all about football. North Ormesby includes an elderly group of the community, where low intensity, passive activity like tai chi is ideal for confidence, balance, and strength in a safe manner.

These benefits have been experienced by a regular attendee (AZ), a 67-year-old who has lived in North Ormesby their whole life, but who, lately, has become more socially isolated.

After engaging in tai chi classes and discussions with our community ambassadors about the local football club, this interest in football followed AZ home and helped convince their partner who is an avid football fan to attend.

When asked about the impact MFC Foundation had made to their life, AZ said: “I registered my husband as he won’t do anything, but he actually loved this session….. 40+ years of marriage and we’ve found something we will do together!”

The first quarter of 2023 saw a monthly increase in attendance at our Active Through Football sessions. Extending that further, from a standing start nine months ago we are approaching 300 people who have benefitted from our services.

Both AZ and their partner have been attending classes regularly and are, “Living our most active lifestyle in years.”

Between August 2022 and April 2023 we delivered 212 sessions to 2,048 people, engaging in 2,582 hours contact at an average of 54 hours a week.

Away from the numbers, the measure of the impact on the community comes from those who live there. AZ and partner, representative of their community, add: “These classes provided by MFC Foundation have become a stable part of our lifestyle. We’re very grateful for what has been provided.”

When asked why they chose to attend Active Through Football, the majority of participants admitted it wasn’t so much to do with the game. “To improve my health” and “something fun to do with friends” were the most popular responses.

Remembering in Middlesbrough 46.6 % say they do less than 150 mins exercise per week and 33% do less than 30 mins, this is a big step forward.

Then comes the why? Why should I exercise?

The British Heart Foundation say 1 in 6 UK deaths are attributed to inactivity. It’s believed around 18,000 people in Middlesbrough are living with heart and circulatory diseases. Inactivity is one of the most significant national health crises threatening people’s cardiovascular health today. Nationally it is estimated the cost to the health service is £1.2bn a year.

The ATF programme is proud to support in providing shared experiences throughout local communities towards shared goals of becoming more active and improving health. The presence and therefore power of the badge in all sessions being delivered by the ATF programme provides an opportunity for people to become active through football in more ways than one.

For more information on our Active Through Football programme, e-mail Danny at