Objectives To develop, implement and assess an interactive, football-based health education programme for children in South Africa.
Design Prospective cohort study with control group.
Setting Two schools in Khayelitsha township, South Africa.
Participants 370 children making up two intervention groups (Grade 6: 125; Grade 7: 131) and one control group (Grade 7: 114).
Intervention Eleven 90 min sessions, each divided into two 45 min halves of Play Football (football skills) and Play Fair (health issues), each session focused on one specific health risk factor.
Main outcome measures Health knowledge using a 20-item questionnaire; coaches' attitudes towards their training programme using a 10-item questionnaire and children's attitudes towards the health education programme using a six-item questionnaire.
Results Children in the Grade 7 intervention group showed significant (p<0.05) increases in the proportion of correct responses for nine of the 20 health knowledge questions postintervention, and these increases were maintained at 3 months postintervention. The Grade 6 intervention group showed significant increases in the proportion of correct responses for 15 of the 20 health knowledge questions postintervention. The Grade 7 control group showed a significant increase in the proportion of correct responses to one of the 20 health knowledge questions post-Play Football sessions and nine of 20 questions post-Play Fair sessions. Over 90% of the children provided positive attitude responses to the health-education programme.
Conclusions The programme demonstrated that it was possible to implement a football-based health-education programme for children in Africa that achieved significant increases in health knowledge and that was also well received by participants.
This paper is freely available online under the BMJ Journals unlocked scheme, see http://ard.bmj.com/info/unlocked.dtl
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Funding This study was supported by a research grant from Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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