We all know that football can be a catalyst for social good and our new GoFitba Project is proving just that. Our initiative focuses on getting youngsters out of the house to play football, but crucially also underlines the importance of nutrition and diet in the quest to get Scotland’s youngsters to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Our scheme has already been trialled in parts of Scotland and now features 12 clubs taking part all across the country. 20 kids are invited from local primary schools to attend for two hours at a time – half of this is spent being trained by club coaches, with the other half reserved for engaging lessons on how to live healthier. Sessions are rounded off with the kids being fed a hot, healthy meal. Projects have already started at Pollok United Soccer Academy, Kilmarnock, Spartans, Motherwell, Cumbernauld Colts and Kilwinning Sports Club with others due to commence shortly at Aberdeen, Inverness, Glenrothes, Falkirk, Dundee East and St. Mirren.
Each project takes 12 weeks to run and youngsters will learn a variety of skills over that time. On the football side of things, the kids will have the opportunity to have coaching sessions with a different focus every couple of weeks – one week it’ll be passing, the next session will be on ball control, and so on.
Stuart McCaffrey, Chief Operating Officer of The SFP Trust believes that the projects offer far more than a simple exercise regime.
“The main aim of the project is working with young people and giving them opportunities to take part in regular fun football activity and to help them to understand the importance of living a healthy life through exercise, diet and nutrition. We’ve put together 12 structured and engaging coaching and education sessions which help the participants with their own personal development”.
“During the second hour, the kids learn about the importance of hydration, the different food groups and the benefits they provide, personal hygiene, the dangers of too much sugar in our diet and many other aspects of leading a healthier lifestyle. There’s also a learning journal for those involved to reflect back on their experiences and take note of what really stood out for them which they can share with their brothers, sisters and parents. This really extends the scope of what this project can achieve beyond just reaching the youngsters involved”.
Stuart continued: “It’s not just about children being more active – it’s also about trying to develop their confidence, team-building skills and working together.
“We don’t want the kids to just come for 12 weeks and then stop. By doing it at these clubs, it almost becomes a showcase into what the clubs can offer them.”
On top of the coaching sessions and nutrition lessons, Stuart also feels it’s important that the children see the practical effects of these classes.
He said: “The nice part is that we’re able to reaffirm these positive messages by giving the kids a healthy cooked meal.”
GoFitba received a 50,000 Euro grant from The UEFA Foundation for Children after being nominated by the Scottish FA and a further £18,000 from The Kilpatrick Fraser Charitable Trust. The initiative has recently drawn admiration from Aileen Campbell, the Minister for Public Health and Sport.
She said: “The GoFitba project is a great opportunity for children to learn about the importance of health, nutrition and physical activity while having fun at the same time. It is great to see so many children and football clubs involved. The Scottish Government is committed to helping communities across Scotland to have healthy lifestyles and get more active. Projects like this demonstrate the power of football and other sports to help achieve this”.