Photo: FIFA Development Officer, Howard McIntosh (left) shares a moment with St. Lucia Football Association President, Lyndon Cooper at the “FIFA 11 for Health” pilot seminar in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday, April 23. The programme has been implemented in regions around the world as a means of teaching kids to stay healthy with and through the sport of football.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico; Seven pilot countries participated in a two-day FIFA 11 for Health workshop for the Caribbean, which concluded today, Friday, April 24, in Puerto Rico. The program, launched last year by CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb and Prof. Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer, promises to bring numerous benefits to the region by emphasizing the importance of national health to all Member Associations.
The initial seminar was hosted by FIFA and attended by representatives of Member Associations, Governments and National Project Leaders including FIFA Development Officer, Howard McIntosh who represented the FIFA Development Staff. The Cayman Islands, Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia were all represented at the seminar.
“The FIFA 11 for Health program has gained significant momentum since its inception, encouraging participation and investment from various organizations and governments to shape future ambassadors of football and sports in general,” said CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb. “CONCACAF welcomes this project to the Caribbean region, as it is designed to infiltrate society from a grassroots level, ensuring that our population remains fit and healthy through the power of football.”
Key subject areas covered during the sessions included implementation strategy, training courses, project budget and responsibilities of the National Project Leader.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Dvorak explained the importance of collaboration in order to maximize the program’s outcomes.
“This project is designed to increase the level of physical activity and improve awareness of communicable and non-communicable diseases globally,” he said. “We are excited to launch FIFA 11 for Health in the Caribbean and involve another region to meet our objectives in this area, and we look forward to working with CONCACAF federations to implement the program.”
Eric Labrador, President of the Puerto Rican Football Federation, expressed his gratitude to FIFA and CONCACAF for initiating such a valuable program.
“For us, it is a privilege that Presidents Blatter and Webb have considered Puerto Rico as the hub to run this pilot project together with the other six pilot countries,” said Labrador. “We are counting on the support of the Department of Education and the Department of Recreation and Sports. Together, we are confident that we will continue in the quest to establish a healthier lifestyle for our youth.”
The FIFA 11 for Health messages vary based on region and the following have been developed for the Caribbean: play football; respect girls and women; protect yourself from HIV and STDs; avoid drugs, alcohol and tobacco; control your weight; wash your hands; drink clean water; eat a balanced diet; get vaccinated; take your prescribed medication and fair play.
The next phase is for participating countries to implement FIFA 11 for Health into school curriculums, using football as a vehicle to promote healthy living from a young age, so that the advantages of a healthier and longer life can be realized.