In 2013 the Western Bulldogs Football Club commenced development of a Men’s Health Program designed to promote health and prevent disease in men aged 18 + living or working in the West of Melbourne.
The driver – the Bulldogs wanted to leverage the power and passion of footy to make a difference to the lives of those living in our backyard, the Western Region of Victoria
Sons of the West is the result of this vision – an innovative free health program aimed at engaging men across the West of Victoria in simple, healthy activities aimed at boosting their health.
No-nonsense, easy to access activities aimed at improving awareness and general health – no boot camps; no marathons; no extremes – more fun than pain, but a 10-week program to help men live healthier, eat healthier and get back in the game of life.
Based in part on English Premier League (EPL) club Liverpool FC’s (LFC) highly successful men’s health program - Sons of the West came about as a result of a meeting between Bulldogs and LFC officials when the Dogs visited the UK in the preseason of 2012.
In 2013 the Bulldogs returned LFC hospitality – hosting the EPL clubs community arm, the Liverpool FC Foundation, when the team toured Australasia in 2013.
Liverpool FC Foundation Head of Foundation Operations Mark Haigh:
"The Liverpool FC Foundation are delighted to have shared the learning from our men's health programme with the Western Bulldogs.
In visiting Melbourne as part of the LFC official club tour in the summer of 2013 we shared in the enthusiasm and determination of the Western Bulldogs to have a similar positive impact on the lives of men locally.
Our collaborative alliance is a great example of a tangible legacy of that tour programme. Two clubs. Two communities. One aim. Better men's health"
In 2017, the programs saw over 1600 men participate in the program with 2018 set to be our greatest year to date!
Achieving health and social inclusion outcomes through sport
Sporting organisations have an important role to play in addressing key areas of men’s health and well-being beyond the elite level. The reach of sport, especially AFL into Australian communities makes AFL clubs a significant candidate to achieve organisational, attitude and behavioural change that improves health in communities especially for men.
As a recognised community leader in the Western Region of Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs Football Club has the connection, reach and demonstrated record through our community programs, to partner with governments and stakeholders to deliver health and social inclusion outcomes that will reduce the economic health burden.
Why the West?
- In Melton, 64% of males do not meet the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines
- Over half (58%) of males in Wyndham do not consume the daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables
- In Brimbank, gaming machine losses are the second highest in the state
- A higher proportion of people living in Hobson’s Bay have Type 2 Diabetes compared to the State average
- Ballarat has the highest rate of cardiovascular disease within Victoria
- Sunbury residents lost over $18 million to gaming machines in 2016-2017
- 1 in 4 males within the Central Goldfields in Victoria are obese
- Males in Maribyrnong have the lowest life expectancy in Victoria (74.8 years)
Sons of the West aims to:
- Improve the health of all men aged 18 years and over who live, work or recreate in Victoria's west.
- Contribute to the health of communities in Victoria's west.
- Establish the Western Bulldogs as an international sporting leader in promoting club and community health
- Use sport as a vehicle to provide an understanding and awareness of health services in Victoria.
- Implement and evaluate a sport-based Health Promotion Program that can be translated to other football clubs and leagues
Health Issues to be addressed:
- Increase physical activity;
- Increase healthy eating;
- Promote gender equality and raise awareness of violence against women;
- Reduce smoking rates;
- Develop healthy social networks
- Raise awareness of anxiety and depression, whilst providing resources for recovery, management and resilience;
- Address problem gambling;
- Address the importance of screening for cancer