FIFA Forward

Let’s All Play: Mexican FA champions exercise and holistic development for children

“Jugamos todos” a social initiative from the Mexican Football Federation 
  • FIFA supporting FMF’s social initiative through Forward Programme
  • Let’s All Play has benefited more than 200,000 kids – and counting
  • Adaptations have kept the programme and children running during COVID-19 crisis

Since 2016, the Mexican Football Association (FMF), in partnership with the country’s Department of Public Education and with support from the FIFA Forward Development Programme, has been promoting the use of football and other sports at schools as a tool to improve children’s health and broaden their opportunities both in sport and in society at large.

According to research, 58.6 per cent of children and teenagers in Mexico do not engage in any form of organised exercise, while physical-inactivity levels have shot up alarmingly (Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT), 2012). Moreover, a previous study (ENSANUT, 2006) showed that 80 per cent of kids nationwide were not getting the minimum amount of exercise recommended by the World Health Organization.

Against this backdrop, and with Forward Programme support, the FMF launched the “Jugamos Todos” (Let’s All Play) programme in the 2018/19 school year as part of its goal of complementing its mission of nurturing grassroots football with a wider social commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles in order to contribute to children’s holistic development.

To that end, it created a bespoke methodology harnessing sport in general and football in particular as a vehicle to enhance the quality of PE classes. The idea was to make the most of the recreational educational setting provided by such lessons so as to foster personal development and civic-mindedness by cultivating values such as equity, inclusiveness, fair play, respect, honesty, teamwork, empathy and tolerance.

Furthermore, FIFA Forward funds were used to finance scientific studies aiming to gauge the effectiveness of the aforementioned methodology. These yielded positive results such as the finding that the Let’s All Play approach successfully reinvigorates overly sedentary PE classes, increasing their intensity by 10 per cent.

The programme equips teachers with tools to make classes more efficient and inclusive and to ensure that the pupils in their charge thus spend more time being active during each lesson. It also champions healthy lifestyles, thereby helping to tackle sedentariness, overweightness and obesity. Having been rolled out at more than 600 schools and benefited over 200,000 boys and girls by the end of 2019, the ever-expanding programme holds great promise for the future.

This progress threatened to be derailed by the public-health crisis associated with COVID-19, during which millions of children have stopped attending school, in line with directives from the health authorities.

However, rather than allow the momentum to grind to a halt, the FMF instead set out to shift the programme from schools to homes. That involved adapting exercises and creating easy-to-follow guided tutorials to motivate kids to keep up their sporting activities in a fun and healthy way.

The revamped “Jugamos Todos en Casa” (Let’s All Play at Home) initiative was launched in collaboration with the Department of Public Education and already features more than 50 videos that have been posted on the website. These enable kids to get their fill of the programme every day, with modules running for between 11 minutes and half an hour.

“Let’s All Play at Home provides a range of options promoting family bonding and physical activity, and encouraging creativity. The FMF is committed to putting values and fair play into practice through our sporting and social programmes, of which Let’s All Play is one example, and to contributing, through play and the values that it stands for, to building a better society,” said Íñigo Riestra, the FMF’s General Secretary.

Having left more than 30 million kids homebound, the COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on Mexican society. Initiatives such as Let’s All Play at Home have therefore been welcomed with open arms, as evidenced by the fact that the user base has grown by more than 300% since the platform went live.

Aptly tailored to the present circumstances, this tool released by the FMF with FIFA Forward backing is an ideal way to spur physical activity and a further demonstration of football’s vast power as a catalyst for social transformation and for the promotion of healthy lifestyles and social and civic values. This is neatly encapsulated by the programme’s motto, which could hardly be more topical: “if we all play, we win together”.

"Jugamos en Casa", a social initiative from the Mexican Football Federation 

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"Jugamos en Casa", a social initiative from the Mexican Football Federation 

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