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FIFA programme spreads to Oceania

Prof Dvorak touched down in Honiara on Sunday and was joined by Franck Castillo, the head of OFC’s social responsibility department. The pair met with the Minister of Health and Medical Services, Hon Charles Sigoto, other government officials and representatives from the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF), led by President Martin Alufurai, on Tuesday and an agreement in principal was reached to accept the introduction of the programme.
“The Minister for Health and Medical Services has confirmed the full support of the government for the FIFA ‘11 for Health’ programme and this is a green light for us to act accordingly,” Prof Dvorak says. “We have no doubts that we will succeed.”
Hon Sigoto says the ministry is very much in support of the implementation of ’11 for Health’ throughout the Solomon Islands.
“I am impressed with the initiative football is taking with this special programme that also encompasses a role in community education,” Hon Sigoto says. “We encourage this function of community health awareness in my ministry and I can see here that football will enrich this role and make a big impact in our communities.”
The Solomon Islands was selected as the first OFC member association to be considered for the ‘11 for Health’ programme after a recommendation from OFC President David Chung and General Secretary Tai Nicholas.
“Promoting the importance of healthy living is a key aspect of OFC’s vision as social issues such as malaria, the dangers of alcohol and drugs, and gender equality are faced by many of our member associations,” Nicholas says. “The ’11 for Health’ programme deals with these issues and therefore has the potential to make a positive difference throughout the Oceania region. We are sure it can be as successful here as it has been in other parts of the world.”
’11 for Health’ will be run as a complimentary programme to ‘Just Play’, OFC’s own social responsibility initiative that likewise aims to promote healthy living, as well as encouraging physical activity and community involvement. Prof Dvorak is impressed by the impact of ‘Just Play’ and is excited at the prospect of the two programmes running alongside each other in Oceania.
The FIFA ‘11 for Health’ is a programme that utilises the power of football as a community education and development tool for promoting health and lifestyle messages. The key goal behind the programme is to encourage individuals and communities to be conscious of the health issues around them and how they can address those issues.
The objectives of the programme are shared through 11 messages:
1. Play football
2. Respect girls and women
3. Protect yourself from HIV
4. Avoid drugs, alcohol and tobacco
5. Use a treated bed net
6. Wash your hands
7. Drink clean water
8. Eat a balanced diet
9. Get vaccinated
10. Take your prescribed medication
11. Fair play
The 11 for Health has been successfully implemented in Africa, where the programme has received widespread support in partner communities, and in some parts of South America.
The success of 11 for Health in Africa has been significant and a particular study conducted in South Africa, and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, reported an improvement in the knowledge children had about health issues after completing the 11-week football education programme.
Gaining the support of the government is the first step is establishing a strong framework in the Solomon Islands for the programme before the implementation of a pilot project. The 11-week pilot is expected to get underway in May and SIFF has indentified 18 schools to take part.

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