UEFA kicks off health and well-being campaign that aims to mobilise European coaching community to educate young people about nutrition, physical activity, mental health and substance abuse.
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Germany’s Hansi Flick, the Azzurri’s Roberto Mancini and Louis van Gaal of the Netherlands are among more than 60 national team coaches supporting today’s Europe-wide launch of the UEFA #FeelWellPlayWell campaign, which uses football to encourage adolescents to make healthy choices early in life.
Initially piloted in four countries last October, #FeelWellPlayWell asks coaches of men’s and women’s teams representing Europe’s 55 national associations to record 10-30 second video messages that advise 13-17 year-olds about nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and substance abuse - especially alcohol and tobacco.
Michele Uva, UEFA director of football and social responsibility
"UEFA is proud to count on the support of so many coaches and national associations. By mobilising Europe’s coaching community, we can use football’s influence to promote health and well-being and encourage better habits and lifestyles."
From today, and over the next few months, associations will share these messages with fans, grassroots clubs, coaches and schools through their communication channels. The campaign will culminate on World Health Day 2022 (7 April) with a joint activity organised by UEFA and its member associations.
UEFA Health and Well-being policy
"With the support of national associations and their coaches, we can jumpstart positive change, encouraging adolescents across Europe to follow the best tactics for a healthy life and a healthier future," added Uva.
This campaign is the first of many initiatives that UEFA plans to launch as part of the new Health and Well-Being policy described in its five-year strategy, Together for the Future of Football. The policy aims to safeguard health and well-being both through football activities across all age groups and awareness-raising initiatives.
Flick: 'If you train, you also need to regenerate'
So far, more than 30 national associations have answered UEFA’s #FeelWellPlayWell call to action with coaches from all levels of the game - youth, futsal, Under-21 as well as senior – recording video messages. From today, and in the next few months, associations will share these messages with their fans, grassroots clubs, coaches, and schools through their communication channels.
One of them, is Germany’s Hansi Flick, who, in his video addresses all four areas of focus for the #FeelWellPlayWell: "We all know if you train you also need to regenerate. Nutrition and sleep are vital aspects of sport to perform well."
UEFA’s campaign messages are based on scientific guidance from the Italian non-governmental organisation Insieme contro il Cancro (Together against Cancer)) and address four topics: physical activity, nutrition, substance abuse, particularly alcohol and tobacco, and mental health.
Who’s who of head coaches supporting #FeelWellPlayWell
Milena Bertolini, Italian women’s national team
"Did you know that what you eat affects your mood, your sleep quality and your attention levels? If you drink water and eat fresh unprocessed foods, you will bring out all your energy on and off the pitch."
Louis van Gaal, Netherlands men’s national team
"I have an important message for all young people. Too many youngsters are exercising too little which worries me. It feels good to be active. Even simple activities can make you healthy and strong. Play football. Go running. Climb the stairs at home! Stay active and move for 60 minutes every day."
Gemma Grainger, Wales women’s national team
"Regular exercise by yourself or with friends will help improve your health and can also be a lot of fun. Getting active will also help boost your self-confidence and mental health."
Martin Stocklasa, Liechtensteiner men’s national team
"Physical exercise such as cycling, swimming, dancing, jogging, is a great way to keep fit. And above all to feel comfortable. Of course, playing football with friends is also part of it. As long as it’s fun."
Francisco Neto, Portugal women’s national team
"We have to take care of our mental health the same way we take care of our bodies."
Nenad Gračan, Croatia women’s national team
"Depression and anxiety are not signs of weakness. Instead they are real health issues – and just like a broken leg, they won’t go on their own. If you struggle with these issues you are not alone. I invite you to speak openly about these topics and to look for professional help just like you would any other health issue."
Arnar Viðarsson, Iceland men’s national team
"It’s OK not to be OK."
Valeri Karpin, Russia men’s national team
"There is a big danger in using alcohol and drugs to relieve stress, as it will instead affect your mental health and mood. Alcohol consumption entails a wide range of negative consequences, including violence, suicide and suicidal ideation etc."
Nina Patalon, Poland women’s national team
"Smoking cigarettes affects your health but also shortens your life expectancy. It also has an impact on your efficiency, which is of great importance in playing sports. Avoiding smoking will not only improve your quality of life it will also affect your performance on the pitch."
UEFA widened the scope of #FeelWellPlayWell to all European associations after successfully piloting the campaign last October in Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Slovenia.
The initiative also forms the centrepiece of UEFA’s official pledge to the European Commission’s HealthyLifestyle4All, a campaign with similar goals that was also launched at the Bled event and encourages organisations, civil society and public authorities to promote the long-term benefits of sport and healthy lifestyles.
The influence of coaches will provide a fresh perspective on the benefits of playing sports and leading healthy lifestyles, and spur momentum for spreading good habits for a healthier Europe.