Football as a learning tool: #BeActive Awards 2021 finalist ‘11 for Health’

12/10/2021 By Maria Malyshkina, ISCA

‘11 for Health’, a project created by Dansk Boldspil Union (DBU, Danish Football Association), was shortlisted as a finalist in the Education category of the #BeActive Awards 2021. We talked to project manager Tina Enestrøm about the initiative.

Photo by Bo Kousgaard, SDU

‘11 for Health’ started in 2015 as a pilot project with only 10 schools. Since then more than 30,000 middle school students have participated in the programme. Currently, the project is for school children aged from 10-14 years, both boys and girls. It consists of 11 weeks with 2 sessions of 45 minutes every week during which the students do different exercises.

However, it is about much more than teaching them how to play football. During the programme the students learn to avoid unhealthy foods, build friendships and enjoy movement and sport. The exercises are also delivered in a way that means everybody can participate in the programme. That’s why, according to Tina, it’s so successful and children actually like this programme. The project puts an emphasis on helping the teachers to implement the programme. They complete a 2-day course where they learn about the programme and the research behind it so that they know how it benefits the kids. 

“What is very important when you work with football in schools and education programmes is that it is supposed to help the teachers with things that they are already doing very well,” Tina says. “So it is very important for us that our programme matches the curriculum. We want to show that if you do football in a right way, if it is organised right, it is a fantastic sport that can support children’s development.” 

Tina Enestrøm (in the middle) at the #BeActive Awards Gala 2021 next to Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth (to the left), and Lene Wittek-Holmberg, DBU (to the right). Photo: Benjamin Brolet

The idea was originally created by FIFA when, in connection with the World Cup, it started a project in South Africa to teach children about health education. The project was then expanded to Europe, so DBU developed the programme together with Prof. Peter Krustrup to adapt it to the western world. 

The scientific approach is central to this initiative. More than 7000 students of 5th grade have participated in the research related to their participation in ‘11 for health’, and the programme has been shown to be effective in improving students' health knowledge, well-being, physical fitness and cognitive performance. 

Read more about the Danish finalists of the #BeActive Awards 2021 here