Most recently we (Dan Parnell, Andy Pringle, Jim McKenna and Stephen Zwolinsky) read some research on the role of community football in promoting physical activity and quality of life in prostate cancer survivors. Our comment on this research is below.
For the link to open access article please click here.
Comments on Bruun, D.M. et al. Community-Based Recreational Football: A Novel Approach to Promote Physical Activity and Quality of Life in Prostate Cancer Survivors. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 5557–5585—Time to RaiseOur Game
Bruun and colleagues  provide a timely and thorough insight into the potential healthopportunities on offer via the structural organisation of football associations, football clubs and theglobal grip of the beautiful game. Their extensive evaluation framework represents an important clarion call for those concerned with football-led health improvement. At the same time, it is wise toconsider how this can be made realistic and relevant to those who may regard the football-led‘concept’ as too alternative or even inappropriate, in the contemporary socio-political and economiccontext.To meet current concerns, football-led health improvement interventions must be both effective and efficient, not least because budgetary restraints inevitably stimulate comparisons between different programmes and approaches. Importantly, advocates can now point to compelling research andevaluation evidence indicating that football-based interventions (a) reach and engage older men withcomplex health needs , (b) reduces participants’ alcohol consumption , (c) increases physicalactivity  and (d) produce significant reductions in weight . Football clubs deliver these effects every day through established community outreach-programmes.
Yet, as a relatively novel approach, football-based interventions need to continue showing theirworth, making evaluation imperative for securing even on-going funding [1,4]. Evaluation is also essential for demonstrating cost-effectiveness and comparative cost-effectiveness. These themes needto become targets for subsequent evaluations because they will increasingly be the concerns of those responsible for Public Health spending. It is no longer wise, nor acceptable, to overlook the integrationof evaluation into project planning and delivery.As Public Health agencies feel the drawn out sting of financial austerity, it is vital to draw on the work of Bruun and colleagues  and on the growing evidence base to rally policy makers,commissioners, researchers and applied practitioners, to generate better evidence and to respond towhat exists so they raise their game.
1. Bruun, D.M.; Bjerre, E.; Krustrup, P.; Brasso, K.; Johansen, C.; Rørth, M.; Midtgaard, J.Community-based recreational football: A novel approach to promote physical activity andquality of life in prostate cancer survivors.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 5567–5585.
2.Bingham, D.D.; Parnell, D.; Curran, K.; Jones, R.; Richardson, D. Fit fans: Perspectives of a practitioner and understanding participant health needs within a health promotion programme forolder men delivered within an English Premier League Football Club. Soccer Soc. 2014,doi:10.1080/14660970.2014.920624.
3. Pringle, A.; Zwolinsky, S.; McKenna, J.; Roberston, S.; Daly-Smith, A.; White, A. Healthimprovement for men and hard-to-engage-men delivered in English Premier League football clubs.
Health Educ. Res. 2014, 29, 503–520.
4. Hunt, K.; Wyke, S.; Gray, C.M.; Anderson, A.S.; Brady, A.; Bunn, C.; Donnan, P.T.;Fenwick, E.; Grieve, E.; Leishman, J.;
et al. A gender-sensitised weight loss and healthy living programme for overweight and obese men delivered by Scottish Premier League football clubs(FFIT): A pragmatic randomised controlled trial. The Lancet 2014 , doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62420-4.