Banbury United Football Club fans are being urged to show unhealthy lifestyles the red card by getting themselves checked at the next home game.
Oxfordshire County Council’s public health team will be giving supporters the chance to undergo a mini NHS Health Check at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium for the match against Royston Town on Saturday, October 20.
Banbury United manager Mike Ford has already put his name down for a check, saying: “I’ve never had one before and fully understand that the results – good or bad – will have a positive impact on my health and wellbeing.
“Recently I have made a positive decision to eat more healthily and exercise regularly. That’s lead to some weight loss and an increase in my physical capabilities.
“So, although I am a little apprehensive I am confident of a good result. I want to see all Puritan fans following my lead.”
Puritans fans could be walking around unaware they could have potentially fatal high blood pressure – putting them at imminent risk of a stroke.
These free checks, which are being held at the club from 1pm, will reveal those risks and calculate fans’ body mass indexes (BMI) showing chances of developing coronary diseases, Type 2 diabetes and dementia.
The tests are specifically designed for anyone aged between 40 and 74 who has not already been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition.
Everyone taking part in the checks will have their name automatically entered into a draw for a framed Banbury United shirt signed by all the players.
Health improvement practitioners, who have been dropping in on some Oxfordshire’s biggest companies and sporting fixtures to spread the word about the often life-saving benefits of the free checks, will be at the stadium passing on tips and lifestyle advice.
Banbury United’s officials are already looking forward to the big day, as club secretary Stephen Barlow said: “We know that a large proportion of our fan base is of an age where a NHS Health Check is of great value to them.
“As a community club one of our key objectives is enhancing the social, cultural and economic value of the club to its communities. We believe this initiative is very much in keeping with the values of the club.
“Coming to watch the team at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium is a very important aspect of the lives, particularly for our older fans.
“By offering a mini heath check at the same time as their regular visit to the ground we hope will make it as easy as possible for supporters to take up this opportunity.
“We’d like to do all we can to ensure they will be around to support the Puritans for many years to come.”
The health check event has also got the support of some key Banbury businesses - one is even offering the public a special reduction in its cab fares to get more people taking part.
Dave Upton, commercial director at Castle Cars, explained: “We are excited to be part of the mini NHS Health Checks that are being provided by Oxfordshire County Council’s public health team.
“To incentivise the local community to come down and get their mini health check done, we are offering a special discount on all taxis that are going down to the stadium. Just mention mini NHS Health Check to get a 15 per cent reduction.”
Castle Cars driver Arshad Mehmood, 43, had his check done ahead of the game: “I was quite shocked the mini test showed my blood pressure was higher than expected and the risks.
“It made me realise just how important the free NHS Health Check is. I’m booking my appointment with my GP Practice for the full test. It’s quick and free and could save my life.”
Dr Eunan O’Neill, public health consultant at the county council, added: “NHS Health Checks are a brilliant way for people to get an overview of their general health and a fast, effective method of finding out if there are some simple things they could be doing to improve their long-term health and well-being.”