Colin Fuller, one of those responsible for FIFA’s '11 for Health' project, and Dr Astrid Junge PhD, Head of Research at the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), gave a positive overall verdict on both their visit to Colombia and their meeting with civil servants from the Department for Public Health, which forms part of the Ministry for Social Protection.
This visit came prior to the implementation of the '11 for Health' programme, which will be rolled out in the country by the following bodies: the Ministry for Social Protection; the National Ministry for Education; the Colombian Football Association (COLFUTBOL) and Coldeportes - a decentralised body for promoting sport in the country.
Fuller and Junge stated that Colombia will be the first South American nation where this initiative is put into practice. The pair also voiced high hopes that the model’s progress in the Cafetera nation will set an example for the rest of the continent to follow.
“The most important thing is to prove that the ’11 for Health’ strategy gets results,” said Fuller. “That’s why it’s so important to put it to the test, by evaluating the schools before and after the strategy is introduced, to be able to show the country that it is a successful programme.”
Dr Junge, for her part, underlined that the message she wished to get across to students was that physical activity and a healthy lifestyle must be a vitally important feature of educational institutions' academic curriculum. “Staying in good health is all our responsibility, and that’s why it’s important to promote physical activity via exercise amongst young people,” said Dr Junge. “Colombia will be the first South American country (where this strategy is implemented) and it must lay down a marker for the continent’s other countries to follow.”
Attending the meetings on behalf of the Ministry for Social Protection were the programme’s managers Fernando Ramirez and Gustavo Tovar, who expressed their satisfaction with the logistical infrastructure the country can call upon to ensure the project goes ahead. Sixteen teachers from public and private schools in Bogota, Cali, Cartagena and Manizales, the cities where the programme will get underway, are set to receive training as part of the initiative.
At the home of the Department for Public Health, the FIFA representatives spoke about their visits to Bogota’s Colegio Atahualpa and Colegio Tabora. Also on the agenda was a look at how local coaching leaders were chosen, as well as analysing the content of the messages the project wishes to get across.
On 5 December this year, the FIFA representatives will to return to Colombia for direct training sessions with the school teachers involved with a view to the development, monitoring and implementation of Colombia’s ’11 for Health’ strategy.