Players on the ball with health issues

Sunderland footballers Jordan Henderson and Bolo Zenden backing the Echo's Tackling Men's Health campaign.'Sunderland AFC

Sunderland footballers Jordan Henderson and Bolo Zenden backing the Echo's Tackling Men's Health campaign.'Sunderland AFC

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SUNDERLAND stars Jordan Henderson and Bolo Zenden are giving their support to the Echo’s Tackling Men’s Health campaign.

The players and chairman Niall Quinn have pledged their backing for our efforts to encourage Wearside’s male population to look after their health and change their lifestyles for the better.

Jordan said: “I think this campaign is really important as men’s health is an important issue that is often overlooked.

“At the club we stay fit as part of our jobs and therefore get our health checked regularly. So I am pleased to get behind this campaign.”

Club captain Bolo agreed. “I am pleased to be part of the campaign. Men, by their nature, are less likely to get things checked out and that is not a good thing.

“I would encourage men to take care of themselves and make sure that they are regularly checked over by a doctor.

“And if they can see areas where they should change to be more healthy, then they should change.”

The Echo has teamed up with Sunderland AFC and NHS experts from City Hospitals Sunderland and Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust to launch the three-month campaign.

In Sunderland, men have a lower than average life expectancy – 75.9 years, compared to a national average of 78.3.

Niall said: “We’re delighted to be backing the Echo’s men’s health campaign. The health of the people of Wearside is an important issue for all of us.

“Obviously, fitness and good health are vital to professional footballers and diet, nutrition and sports science play a huge part in modern football.

“Naturally we wouldn’t expect our supporters to be at the same level of fitness as professional athletes, but we are very keen to do anything we can to highlight the benefits of looking after your health and that of your family.”

He added: “The football club is a focal point for the Wearside community and by being directly involved in the campaign with the Echo and Sunderland NHS we can help to highlight the importance of this issue and actively encourage our fans to think about their health – which could be anything from being aware of cancer symptoms to doing more exercise or improving your diet.”

Niall says he has made his own new year’s resolution – to get fit.

He said: “Since I retired from playing football I don’t exercise at anywhere near the level I used to and as I’m in now my 40s I know I need to work harder on looking after my health.

“Going to the gym and improving my general fitness levels is high on my personal agenda right now.”

Sunderland AFC is already doing its bit to help improve people’s health, including the Niall’s Mile campaign, which has seen people taking part in mile-long walks.

SAFC Foundation, the club’s official charity, promotes the benefits of looking after your health, with schemes including Fit for Football, which delivers coaching sessions for young people around health issues.

Niall added: “We’re happy to be supporting the Echo’s campaign and hope the men of Sunderland - and their family and friends– will support it too, so we can all improve the health of our city.”