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Thursday 24 Jun 2021
Irish FA and safefood partnership aims to help kids get on the ball with healthy habits

The Irish Football Association has teamed up with safefood in Northern Ireland in a new partnership aimed at using football to encourage more than 2000 children each year to get on the ball with healthier habits.

Safefood will become the Irish FA’s official safe and healthy eating partner and they will work together to deliver a series of football-based programmes and events across Northern Ireland to teach young people the importance of creating healthy eating habits and being physically active from a young age.

The new partnership kicked off this week with more than 1200 children across 12 primary schools participating in one day festivals that incorporated interactive and practical challenges and games to introduce children to the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity.

Through play and games we will help children understand the benefits of eating more fruit, vegetables and healthy snacks, as well as drinking water or milk. Engaging with 48 primary schools in this programme will be yet another way that the foundation can encourage young people to be healthy and physically active

Safefood and the Irish FA will roll out a six-week after schools programme across 48 primary schools from September and will educate720 children, aged between 8 and 11, on the importance of making healthier food choices and creating active habits.

The partnership aims to encourage children to learn how and why it is important to make healthier choices, for example eating more fruit, vegetables and healthy snacks, as well as drinking water or milk instead of fizzy drinks. It will also help children understand the importance of getting enough sleep for growth and development and the need to reduce the amount of time they spend on their screens and being more active.

Irish FA Foundation coaches, trained by safefood, will also deliver nutritional based workshops to a minimum of 180 coaches from local grassroots football clubs each season.

Launching the partnership, Dr Catherine Conlon, Director of Human Health and Nutrition at safefood, said: “We are delighted to be the Irish FA’s official safe and healthy eating partner and expand on our work supporting schools. We have worked closely with the association to develop educational resources and games that will help children learn about the importance of eating healthily and being more active in a fun and interactive way.” 

Safefood and the Irish FA will use a mixture of animated presentations, player videos, interactive games and coaching sessions to demonstrate how children can make healthier choices for their health and wellbeing. 

Keith Gibson, the interim Director of Football Development at the Irish FA Foundation, said: “We are delighted to team up with safefood in this innovative programme using football to encourage more than 2000 children each year to get on the ball with healthier habits.

“Through play and games we will help children understand the benefits of eating more fruit, vegetables and healthy snacks, as well as drinking water or milk. Engaging with 48 primary schools in this programme will be yet another way that the foundation can encourage young people to be healthy and physically active.”

Safefood is an all-island body with a remit of promoting the importance of good food hygiene in the family home and helping people make more informed choices about the food they eat.

For more information on safefood visit www.safefood.net.

Images: Ballymacash Primary School pupils Leon Roberts and Alana Singleton helped Northern Ireland senior women’s international Kerry Beattie and Andrew Castles from safefood to launch the new partnership between the Irish FA and safefood