Professional football clubs, league operators and governing bodies are ideally positioned to tap into the loyalty exhibited by millions of fans across Europe to develop innovative programmes to tackle a broad range of issues from physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour to food, nutrition and alcohol consumption.
The first plenary session explored the role football can play to promote and encourage individuals to make small but significant changes to their lives and contribute toward improving population level health and wellbeing.
Wellbeing is something that is persistently hard to define, but economic, social, environmental, democratic and personal factors are all known to influence how a person feels and their quality of life.
Nancy Hey, Director of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, explored how wellbeing indicators can be used in community sports interventions, to complement harder outcome measures.
Over the past 30 years, settings-based health promotion has become a prominent feature in efforts to tackle the burden of non-communicable diseases. It is based on the notion that investment in social environments is more effective than placing emphasis on the individual to modify their behaviour. Settings usually refer to the fundamental facilities and systems of an organisation and can be thought of as having physical boundaries, but they also encompass a number of intangible components including sociocultural factors and organisation structure and policy.
Organisations such as the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFÉ) have taken a settings-based approach to address accessibility issues in sports stadia to provide a more inclusive matchday experience for disabled supporters across Europe.
There are now several examples of sports organisations that have taken learning from both of these agendas to develop their facilities to accommodate for those suffering from dementia and / or mental health issues. The second plenary discussed the challenges organisations may face in addressing inclusivity issues.