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FIFA adviser helps promote football’s benefits to health


FIFA President Sepp Blatter has expressed the “need to modernise professional management of member associations.” AFP

Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
FIFA marketing consultant Stuart Ramalingham looks through his computer files at the FFC office.

A leading consultant from FIFA’s professionalisation programme has been knocking the doors of Cambodia’s Ministries of Health and Youth, Education and Sports to propagate the power of football for social change.

“We are sitting on mounds of knowledge, experience and expertise – things money cannot buy – and FIFA would like to share this with member countries,” said Stuart Ramalingham yesterday. “We would like to help countries help themselves and that is where governance and leadership play a very crucial role in football administration.”

Ramalingham, a marketing consultant with FIFA, is visiting Phnom Penh to lend his expertise on bringing local development structures up to date.

Echoing FIFA chief Sepp Blatter’s prophecy that “we need to modernise professional management of member associations,” the FIFA adviser said his main thrust in the next few days would be to assist the Kingdom with strategic management programmes, such as the five-day Grassroots Football Festival to be held in the capital from Thursday.

“We pick children in the age group of 6 to 12 [years old] for this project,” he said. “[We] involve schools and communities, spread messages of health concerns and create social awareness among children. Football is a platform on which all these objectives are met.”

A certification course for coaches forms the cornerstone of the initiative, which aims at producing at least 100 coaches to educate thousands of children expected to be drawn into competitive football over the next few years.

“English FA used this programme to drill an anti-obesity message; Germany’s theme was racial integration; Africa voiced concerns over AIDS, and likewise Cambodia can also take up a health issue to link with this project. This is where the Ministry of Health comes in,” added Ramalingham.

“Research shows that children grow much healthier in a football environment, and bone density is one area that has been shown to improve in children [playing] football.”

The FIFA adviser said he is looking forward to a so called stakeholders meeting at the Sunway Hotel today, organised by the Football Federation of Cambodia and attended by ministry officials, as well as representatives from local NGOs, sponsors and the media.

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