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Newcastle United hero Bob Moncur named Be A Game Changer ambassador following lockdown journey to better health

One of Newcastle’s greatest ever captains, Bob Moncur, has been named as the first Be A Game Changer ambassador with Newcastle United Foundation.

The former centre-back, who lifted the Magpies’ last major trophy with the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup-winning team, is now championing the initiative aiming to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of football fans in the region.

Moncur has been a proud patron of the club’s official charity arm, attending celebration events and Health and Wellbeing sessions including Walking Football – a slower-paced version of the game ideal for older generations of players.

Now a Be A Game Changer ambassador, Moncur is encouraging United supporters of all ages to contact the Foundation for advice and support on improving their mental and physical wellbeing.

He also hopes his own journey to better health and fitness through lockdown will inspire others to create healthy habits to last a lifetime.

“Without a doubt I’d encourage people to get in touch with the Foundation and to get involved with the Be A Game Changer campaign if they’re struggling or need support or ideas on how to make changes for themselves,” he said.

“When the first lockdown came in, I thought to myself, well, everyone’s locked in the house and getting out to do exercise is not as easy.

“I fortunately had an indoor bike which my son gave me – I think he wanted to get rid of it actually – so I set that up and I’ve been on that every day for an hour and that’s just kept me fit and sane.

“The big danger, of course, at my age is you sit around doing nothing and put weight on – well I’ve done the opposite and I’ve lost about a stone, just by using the bike in the house.

“It also keeps you focused because every day you’ve got a target and sometimes I think, ‘God, I could do without that’, but I suppose most of my life I’ve been fit and I don’t want to become unfit, so that’s a mentality I’ve probably got from my old training days as a professional footballer.”

The Be A Game Changer initiative was launched by Newcastle United Foundation in February 2019, offering football supporters mental health advice and support to help recognise when they or their loved ones are in crisis.

During the summer lockdown, volunteering staff made 1,000 telephone calls to elderly and vulnerable individuals connected the Foundation or the Magpies, checking in on their mental health and reducing feelings of loneliness.

In recent weeks, Newcastle United Foundation staff welcomed back Walking Footballers to venues across Newcastle, giving older generations the chance to keep active, socialise and boost their mental wellbeing in a safe environment.

Moncur added: “I think it is important to keep moving – especially elderly people – you’ve got to try if you’re fit enough to do it.

“The big thing is, a lot of people like myself, are limited in what exercise they can do, but the bike is perfect for me. But I have to confess, I do a bit of hoovering every morning too – it’s little habits like that that keep you moving.

“All I know is that if I didn’t have the bike, I’d probably be going around the bend by now sitting around wondering what you’re going to do all day. I think it’s very important to keep yourself focussed with a target like that each day.

“It’s great that the Foundation offer wellbeing sessions to keep older people in particular active and sociable – after this terrible lockdown is over, I hope everyone who is able to can get back to exercising outdoors and enjoying their time together as a team again.”

Be A Game Changer is funded by Newcastle City Council, Premier League Charitable Fund and the North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network, providing a number of community sessions each week to support mental wellbeing.

For more information about Be A Game Changer or for help and advice from Newcastle United Foundation, visit nufoundation.org.uk/beagamechanger


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