World Health Day 2022 – panel discussion on football, health and wellbeing | Within UEFA
To mark World Health Day and the culmination of our Coaches for Health #FeelWellPlayWell campaign, UEFA hosted a panel discussion on 7 April with the following experts in the fields of physical activity, nutrition, mental health and addiction, discussing the latest insights and guidance.
- Michele UvaDirector of Football and Social Responsibility, UEFA
- Dr. Fiona BullHead of Physical Activity Unit, World Health Organization
- Teacher. Med. Tim MeyerChairman of the UEFA Medical Committee
- Doctor Matteo Pincellanutritionist for the Italian national team and FC Internazionale Milano
- Milena Bertoliniwomen’s national team coach, Italy
- Gemma GraingerWomen’s national team coach, Wales
- Roberto Martinezcoach of the men’s national team, Belgium
The panel, moderated by Sky Sport Italy journalist and TV presenter Federica Masolin, aimed to:
- Clarify the role football and football coaches can play in achieving specific health goals.
- Raise awareness of scientific evidence on health risks that affect adolescents and understand why healthy lifestyles can help prevent non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc.) which are the leading cause of premature death, as well as mental illnesses.
- Highlight the links between physical and mental health as equally important components of a person’s overall health.
- Highlight the role that nutrition, physical activity, mental health and substance abuse prevention play in the overall health and sense of well-being of individuals.
Michele Uva, UEFA Football and Social Responsibility Director
“UEFA 2030’s ambition is to mobilize the football community to promote better health and well-being, and to take action through football across all age groups. Health matters collective and a common good that has a strong impact on health prevention, social costs and the level of happiness in civil society, and UEFA takes this seriously.Physical activity, nutrition, mental health and addiction prevention are issues that football can have an impact on. Encouraging young people to play football regularly and implementing these key principles are ways to contribute to a healthier lifestyle.”
Coaches for Health – #FeelWellPlayWell was launched in December 2021. The campaign called on coaches from European men’s and women’s national teams to use their influential voices to champion the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for young people aged 13-17.
This was achieved by filming short messages on four main topics: nutrition, physical activity, mental health and addiction – these messages being broadcast on the social networks of each national association.
The role of coaches and football in health and well-being
Roberto Martínez, Belgium men’s national team coach
“As a coach you are responsible for creating a good environment with your players in the dressing room, and you must be aware that to perform at the highest level there are three important aspects: the best food, the perfect rest and the ability to train to the maximum.”
“A coach makes sure the environment is the right one and the right information is passed on. Players also need to feel they can speak up if something is wrong. Sport should be about fun, but we We also have to learn to deal with disappointment, and that’s where mental health becomes a big issue.”
“If we don’t create a healthy environment where people can express themselves or say how they feel, everything becomes negative. It’s the role of the coach to create that healthy and safe environment, and it’s essential to all levels of power to get the right messages across in terms of nutrition, how you need to take care of yourself, and how quickly you need to let people know you’re not feeling 100%.”
Milena Bertolini, coach of the Italy women’s national team
“Football is a sport that, in addition to developing aerobic and physical capacity, strength and endurance, has another important aspect that leads to the well-being of the athlete. I believe that football is a sport where relationships are very important. We are social people, and we like to be together with others, and so a sport like football develops all of these aspects of integration, inclusion, and a sense of belonging and feeling part of a group. which gives tremendous psycho-physical benefits.
The importance of fostering good habits early in life
Teacher. Med. Tim Meyer, Chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee
“Regular physical activity has effects at different levels, in the short term – with the improvement of well-being and self-esteem – and in the long term by lowering the risk factor concerning blood pressure, cholesterol and other issues.”
“Children and young people might not see these benefits because they generally feel healthy. However, it is crucial that they begin an active lifestyle as early as possible to ensure that they continue this lifestyle as they age.
Gemma Grainger, Wales women’s national team manager
“Parents have an important role to play when it comes to health and well-being, especially as role models, because they have a big influence on their children when it comes to the habits they create for them.”
“The benefits of football, and how it affects mental health and general well-being, are huge, so introducing the sport into a youngster’s life at an early age can really start to foster good habits. Whether it’s physical activity or nutrition, the earlier you can start learning about these habits, the better.
How to take care of your health is simple habits to feel good
Dr Fiona Bull, Head of Physical Activity Unit, World Health Organization
“Mental health issues, such as behavioral problems and anxiety in 10-14 year olds, and anxiety and depression in 15-19 year olds, are common problems among young people, and the benefits of sport and participation in physical activities activity are many – including the friendships, the connections, the sense of well-being, the fun you can have and, of course, the overall good impact it can have on the mental health system.
Dr Matteo Pincella, nutritionist for Italy and FC Internazionale Milano
“I think diet is the most powerful lifestyle variable that influences, for better or worse, a person’s health. Nutrition is important for longevity because it reduces the risk of disease, and nutritional challenges and needs vary through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age.
“Calorie intake follows the rule of 25 to 35 calories per kilogram of body weight for an inactive person, and two to three times that of an athlete. Also, if we eat a lot, we need to match that with our water intake. The rule is simple. If you eat 2,000 calories, you will need to drink two liters of water. But if you eat even more, you will need more water: add one liter of water for every thousand calories.
“One of the biggest challenges in nutrition in recent years has been the consumption of liquid sugar, such as soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks. Most people are unaware of the high amount of sugar in a soft drink, which creates long-term problems for overall health.
“Awareness is needed – sleep well, eat well and don’t use tobacco or alcohol. Coaches need to lead by example in this area.