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Denmark : Health education through football

The ’11 for Health’ programme implemented in Danish primary schools is recognised by researchers as a major step forward in encouraging children to be more physically active.


It is well documented that physical inactivity is one of the biggest public health threats.

This is especially true for children and young people, the majority of whom are not active enough for optimal health.

In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global action plan on physical activity for 2018 to 2030, in which school-based policy initiatives are put forward as an essential component to create a more active society.

A recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine by Thornton, Dvorak and Asif (2021) recognises Denmark’s ’11 for Health’ programme for its proven wide-ranging positive benefits on health and health knowledge.

The initiative is an enjoyable 11-week programme of exercise and health education through football for 10–12 year-olds that is offered to all schools in collaboration between the Danish Football Association and the University of Southern Denmark. The children play football, are physically active and learn about health.

In the editorial, the authors highlight that it is “both low cost and effective in improving health outcomes for the children involved. We, therefore, challenge other football associations and governments (…), to implement an ‘11 for Health’ initiative in their country. Enhancing health education, improving health knowledge and increasing physical activity in youth through the joys of sport is a model proven successful.

Spreading this important message to more children around the world will be key in addressing WHO’s global action plan on physical activity and ensuring kids learn, play and have fun while pursuing optimal health.”

This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 194