The Beautiful Game Bringing Families Together: Children’s and Parents’ Experiences of a Family Football Programme

Melissa Fothergill*, Gursharan Gill, Pamela L. Graham

*Corresponding author for this work

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Children are consistently not achieving recommended levels of physical activity (PA) despite it being a compulsory requirement of the national curriculum in England. Fruit and vegetable consumption also falls below recommended levels for both adults and children. With school PA increasingly being outsourced, football foundations (linked to professional football clubs) are now prominent providers of children's PA. However, research exploring coach-led interventions in schools is limited with a particular gap in knowledge surrounding the qualitative experiences of children and parents/carers. The current study therefore aimed to explore the experiences of children and parents engaged in a 6-week family football programme. Family football is a free after-school programme engaging parents/carers and their children, to enhance their engagement in PA and healthy nutritional habits. A purposive sample of parents/carers and their children (N = 36) took part in qualitative focus groups to discuss their experiences of participating in family football. Reflexive thematic analysis revealed two themes: (i) healthy lifestyle facilitators and challenges and (ii) added value of programme participation. Children discussed programme content around nutritional practices and parents/carers discussed examples of where nutritional practices had improved at home, though some parents/carers and children highlighted persistent barriers to health improvement. Both parents/carers and children reflected on how the programme had enabled them to spend dedicated time with one another. The findings emphasize the significance of direct parent/carer involvement in school-based health interventions as well as the value of coach-led interventions in the enhancement of PA enjoyment, nutritional knowledge and connectedness of families within schools.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdaad183
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

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