The host country of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ was an almost natural choice for the pilot study of the “11 for Health” programme in Africa in 2009. Together with Grassroot Soccer, a not-for-profit organisation that is using the power of football in the fight against AIDS and hosting the Football for Hope Centre in Cape Town, a curriculum was developed to deliver the 11 health messages in a strict football-related context.
GRS operates its own flagship sites in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia. To test the effect and the acceptability of the programme, 300 schoolchildren of two schools in Khayelitsha Township, were divided into two groups. The intervention school received the full “11 for Health” programme with both the “Play Football” and the “Play Fair” part, the control school received only “Play Football”. The programme was assessed using different tools, including an assessment of children’s knowledge using 20 questions related to the health messages.
For the intervention school, there was an increase in children’s knowledge after completion of the programme as compared to prior the programme for 16 of the 20 questions. For the control school, there was no significant change in knowledge, except for one question. Following the study, the children at the control school also received the “Play Fair” part to ensure they received the full benefit of the programme. The study was published in the renowned British Journal of Sports Medicine prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
A follow-up project at the Football for Hope Centre in Alexandra is currently investigating if the effect of “11 for Health” depends on the age of the participating children. About 1,600-2,000 children in four age-groups of 11, 12, 13 and 14 years at the start of the programme will perform the programme implemented by Grassroot Soccer. A similar approach will be followed in Zimbabwe to increase the number of children in this test to 4,000-5,000 in both countries.
11 for Health: Download the scientific article reporting on the results of the pilot study in Kayelitsha township (Fuller et al 2010) here