Football clubs, National Associations and key agencies such as the World Health Organisation, European Commission and UEFA gathered for the EuroFIT Programme Launch held at Scotland House in Brussels to celebrate the success of the research project and to learn how the ground-breaking programme will be rolled-out across Europe.
European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) is a revolutionary health and wellbeing programme that harnesses the connection between fans and their football club, attracting them to a lifestyle change programme delivered by football coaches at club facilities.
Building on a growing body of evidence that “football is medicine”, EuroFIT uses cutting-edge behavioural science and technology in a bid to prevent, rather than treat, chronic illnesses associated with obesity and inactivity such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
EuroFIT has already helped over 1100 fans make long-term, sustainable changes to physical activity and diet, reduce alcohol consumption, reduce blood pressure, improve a range of blood biomarkers and overall wellbeing. A full set of clinical results will be published in the academic press late this year following the EuroFIT programme launch.
The Head of Unit for Infectious Diseases and Advancing Public Health, Dr Cornelius Schmaltz, provided delegates with an overview of the EU Commission’s research agenda and how the EuroFIT programme and research project has generated new insights into behavioural insights and tackling health inequalities.
Professor Sally Wyke discussed the background of EuroFIT and the core components of the programme including how using the power of football and the draw of club facilities can help to engage overweight, male fans – a demographic that is typically hard-to-reach through traditional means.
Sally also discussed the effectiveness and the impact of the 12-week physical activity and sedentary behaviour programme across England, the Netherlands, Portugal and Norway. The main EuroFIT paper is currently pending publication in a leading academic journal (November 2019).
PSV fan and EuroFIT participant, Erwin Coolen, explored his experiences of EuroFIT and the effect the programme has had on his life and the knock-on effect on his family’s lives.
Erwin spoke at length about how the coaches at PSV gave him practical tools, tips and tricks to help him make small changes to his lifestyle that collectively have had a big impact on his overall health and wellbeing.
To date, over 80 coaches in four European countries have been trained to deliver the EuroFIT programme, building capacity and confidence in clubs to deliver evidence-based health programmes.
At the EuroFIT programme launch, Joe Chaffey (Arsenal in the Community), Matt Bray (Leicester City Community Trust) and Ilyas Patel (Blackburn Rovers Community Trust) discussed the impact of EuroFIT on the men taking part in their programmes and how their own coaching skills have developed following the bespoke EuroFIT training session.
Patrick Gasser discussed UEFA’s approach to Football and Social Responsibility and the broad range of issues and initiaves UEFA supports ranging from stadium accessibility through to eliminating discrimination in the beautiful game.
Patrick also detailed UEFA’s long-standing partnership with Healthy Stadia and how UEFA competitions and events are leveraged to help promote physically active and healthy lifestyles. UEFA have endorsed EuroFIT as an example of best practice.
Dr João Brito, physiologist at the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), discussed how Portugal’s victory at UEFA EURO 2016 in France provided the stimulus for a raft of new measures and support for football across the country.
Owing to the success of EuroFIT in Portugal, the 12-week programme has now been integrated into Portugal’s national physical activity strategy and will be delivered by professional football clubs in the Primeira Liga.
Dr Temo Waqanivalu provided an overview of some of the World Health Organisation’s global policy objectives in relation to physical activity, sedentary behaviour and non-communicable diseases.
Temo went on to explore the benefits of grassroots sport and how EuroFIT could be an integral part of re-engaging inactive and older men in physical activity.
Yves Le Lostecque provided delegates at the EuroFIT programme launch with an overview of the EU Sport Unit’s priority areas, including health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA).
Yves also profiled the EU Erasmus+ funding programme, the European Week of Sport and the Tartu call for a healthy lifestlye which was signed in 2017 by Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth & Sport.
Our Executive Director, Dr Matthew Philpott, provided delegates with a brief overview of Healthy Stadia and the role that sport and sports stadia can play in increasing physical activity levels amongst fans and local communities.
Matthew also discussed the ongoing roll-out of EuroFIT and how clubs, league operators and national associations can follow in the footsteps of 21 clubs across Europe and the Portuguese Football Federation.
If your Football Club, Professional Football League or National Association would like to know more about the EuroFIT programme, please do get in touch by clicking the button below.