Encouraging girls and mothers to improve their fitness and heart health through football was a key theme as the Make A Healthy Heart Your Goal campaign, the official community health education programme of UEFA Women's EURO 2013, held a reception in Gothenburg on the opening day of the tournament.
UEFA and the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) have teamed up with the World Heart Federation (WHF) and the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation (SHLF) to run the Make A Healthy Heart Your Goal campaign. The campaign is run under the patronage of HRH Prince Daniel of Sweden, who will attend Wednesday's opening game in Gothenburg between Denmark and hosts Sweden – whose forward line is led by Lotta Schelin, the face of Make A Healthy Heart Your Goal. The campaign encourages women and girls to lead an active lifestyle and practise sports such as football to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Opening the event, WHF CEO Johanna Ralston said: "Physical activity has been called the 'magic pill' for health, the way that we can tackle cardiovascular disease, which is the leading casue of death for women in Sweden and most countries around the world, something which is not widely understood.
"Eighty per cent of cardiovascular disease deaths are preventable so if we can address the risk factors we could prevent the majority of these deaths. These factors include bad diet, harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and a lack of physical activity so it is very important that we are here today raising awareness and calling for increased physical activity among women."
Among activities promoting those goals in the tournament is the formation of a Heart Team, with one member from each of the 12 finalists, such as Sweden's Caroline Seger and England's Rachel Yankey, sharing messages to encourage women and girls to lead an active, healthy lifestyle. An exhibition took place during the reception displaying the players' messages, their stories are featured in press releases and their tips will be shared on social media.
Also at the reception a panel discussion took place involving Swedish TV presenter Suzanne Sjögren, UEFA Executive Committee member and UEFA Women's Football Committee chairwoman Karen Espelund, UEFA Women's Football Committee member Aleksandra Pejkovska of the Football Federation of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and SHLF general secretary Staffan Josephson. They shared different experiences of promoting physical activity, especially through football, both in their jobs and personal lives.
Referee Elin Lundgren then shared her own experience of watching a game as she was preparing to officiate when a player collapsed. With her own nurse training she was able to administer CPR and save the player's life. "The more people that know CPR, the more lives that can be saved following a cardiac arrest," she said. "Every second counts."
To that end, all 1,400 volunteers in the tournament have been given CPR training and instruction is available at fan zones in every host city. The campaign will also be highlighted at the semi-finals in Gothenburg and Norrkoping on 24 and 25 July and World Heart Federation members have received a toolkit to spread the campaign message as well as ideas and advice to organise on-the-ground activities in their country.
For details about the Make A Healthy Heart Your Goal campaign, go to bit.ly/QxvmfL.
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