The Football Association has launched a new initiative focused on inspiring 12-16-year-olds, and their families, to improve their health and wellbeing.
The ‘The Greater Game’ programme uses football to encourage teenagers and their parents to make at least one extra healthier action per week. The actions will centre on four key pillars: moving well; eating well; sleeping well; and thinking well.
Delivered in the form of educational workshops, the initiative will give parents and guardians, coaches and young people practical tips and techniques to support making healthier choices under the pillars of Move, Eat, Sleep and Think. These can be taken away and put into practice on the pitch and at home.
The Greater Game launches at a time when less than half of 10-16-year-olds in the UK regularly exercise for an hour a day.
A fundamental part of The Greater Game programme is a grassroots initiative, which has been co-created with Nuffield Health – currently in a pilot stage, before a national rollout in 2024.
The pilot is being delivered to selected clubs across five County FAs: Berks & Bucks CFA, Cheshire and Manchester CFA, Leicestershire & Rutland CFA, Middlesex CFA and Somerset CFA, reaching 130 coaches and parents and guardians and 2,000 young people. Quantitative and qualitive analysis of the pilot, which includes control groups, will inform the national rollout in 2024.
The grassroots initiative has been underpinned by robust external research by academics from the Institute for Sport and Physical Activity Research at the University of Bedfordshire and researchers from the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London.
Through engaging directly with the target audience, their behavioural concerns were identified, and intervention strategies recommended, with the aim to drive long-term change.
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s CEO, said: “The Greater Game aims to harness the power of football to improve the health of young people throughout the country.
“The campaign will evolve over time, with the long-term ambition of inspiring healthier, happier lives whilst tackling the underlying problems that lead to poor physical and mental health.
“We are working with some great brand partners who understand and care about health and young people, and we are all committed to doing our best to drive positive change.”
Steve Gray, CEO, Nuffield Health said: “We know that children of this generation are disadvantaged when it comes to their health, and we need to take action.
“The Greater Game is an innovative programme that applies our own expertise, as well as harnessing the power of football, to help families and young people make small changes to improve both their physical and mental health. Alongside the FA, we’re committed to driving this initiative over the long-term to help as many young people as we can live healthier lives.”
The FA will look to add new partners and further initiatives to The Greater Game programme as it expands over the coming years.