OVERWEIGHT men in Oxfordshire could be referred by their doctors to take part in a new football fitness programme this summer.

Footie Fitness is a 10-week course run between Oxford United and the NHS.

And this year a special extended version of the course hopes to tackle childhood obesity.

The first session will begin at the Oxford United training ground, Roman Way, on Wednesday.

The course can even be tailored for those who can’t make consective weeks.

Oxford United spokesman Chris Lowes said: “The children’s course will be a great way for kids between the ages of 11 and 15 to lose weight while playing fun, football-related games.

“It will focus on the fundamental movements such as agility, balance, coordination and speed.

“Our adult programme offers a male-only, supportive environment, weight loss, exercise and healthy living and nutritional information, and football-specific training to help improve attitudes to fitness.”

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) spokesman Richard McCrann said: “Footie Fitness is a programme that has been designed by Oxfordshire NHS Public health practitioners and Oxford United fitness coaches to meet NHS guidelines.

“It provides a unique weight management programme for men in Oxford to help them lose weight in a fun and exciting way.

“In particular the programme offers men with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or over an opportunity to lose weight and become healthier via ‘footie’ fitness training, through 10 weekly football physical activity sessions.

“It also gives tips on healthy lifestyles and advice on healthy eating.

“As a new weight support service for obese men or men with concerns around obesity in Oxford city, GP’s conducting NHS health checks can also signpost or refer men who meet the BMI criteria to Footie Fitness.

“We are providing further support and health input into this initiative including linking Footie Fitness into OCCG Primary Care health objectives for the city.”

Footie Fitness is one of two fitness drives Oxford United are involved in this spring and summer.

The other, Football, Fitness and Wellbeing will also run over the summer.

It is a partnership between the club and mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind, and is open to men between the ages of 16 and 35.

Oxford United’s star striker James Constable, left, is supporting the project.

He said: “This is a great project for anyone with an interest in football.

“It will give young guys from Oxfordshire a chance to train with Oxford United coaches and also learn some new skills for managing emotions. “I’m glad to help get people interested in taking part.”

The project has been funded by a grant of £38,000 from Comic Relief.

For more information about either course contact the club on 01865 337500.