The Football Association of Malawi (FAM) had signalled their interest to implement the ‘11 for Health’ programme in their country already during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ when several meetings took place in South Africa, also involving the Malawian Ministries of Health, Youth Development and Sport, and Education, Science and Technology. After the initial organisational meetings in spring, a pilot study was planned in order to evaluate the acceptability and effect of the ‘11 for Health’ programme in 12 to 13 year-old school children.
Two project responsibles were nominated by the FAM to organise a first coach instructor course from 8 to 12 August in Blantyre. Next to the F-MARC instructors, two teachers involved in the nationwide launch of the programme in Mauritius were part of the instructor group for this course. These coaches, who come from a similar educational and social background as the course participants, are meant to not only to provide culturally sensitive training but also allow for maximum gain from practical experiences in other countries and to establish a core group of African coaches.
Twenty-three physical exercise teachers, two from each of the twelve secondary schools involved, and nine FAM coaches participated in the course in Blantyre and learned how to teach the eleven messages to children as well as the theoretical background underpinning each of the messages.
The implementation started about a month later. One thousand boys and girls at the respective schools completed a questionnaire establishing their current health knowledge prior to the start of the lessons. With start of the implementation, one week is spent on teaching each message to the kids in a playful, football-related manner.
In December, the children will again complete the questionnaire to assess any change in their health knowledge as an effect of the programme. The coaches will provide feedback on the implementation of the sessions and any difficulties encountered. Based on the experience gained, the long-term implementation of the ‘11 for Health’ programme in Malawi will then be planned.