The Mauritius Football Association was alerted to the “11 for Health” programme for the first time when attending the FIFA Medical Conference in Zurich in October 2009. Being aware of the considerable burden of non-communicable disease and intrigued by the close link to football, they immediately linked up with the Mauritius Ministries of Health and Quality of Life, Education and Human Resources, and Youth and Sport to launch a first test.
From February to June 2010, 389 children, aged 12 to 15 years, participated in the programme. The programme was implemented as an in-school intervention at eleven secondary schools all over the island using teachers recruited from each of the schools and qualified football coaches working for the Mauritius Football Association. Since diabetes represents a major health threat in Mauritius, a new session on diabetes was developed and replaced the malaria session as the infection is not an issue on the island.
As in Zimbabwe, a 30-item questionnaire was used to assess children’s health knowledge before and after their participation, and a 6-item questionnaire to explore their views on the programme. Health knowledge before and after the programme was performed was greater in the children in Mauritius, and they generally enjoyed participating in the “11 for Health”.
Inspired by the success, the strong cooperation of the Mauritius Football Association, the Mauritian Ministries of Health and Quality of Life, Youth and Sports and Education and Human Resources proceeded with no delay to the next step. In February 2011, the countrywide implementation of the “11 for Health” in all children in their first year of secondary school started. About 17’000 children will participate in the programme running over 11 weeks until April 2011.