With the Men's World Cup starting up this month, let's take a look at some of the physical and mental health initiatives FIFA are looking to introduce for the World Cup. Starting with their mental health initiative, 32 "Friendship Benches," one for each participating nation, are being installed in Doha prior to the start of the soccer matches. The benches are being installed to promote the critical importance of mental health, and the role that soccer and sports in general can play to promote mental health and well-being. This initiative is part of the Sport for Health partnership, which is led by the World Health Organization and the Qatar Ministry of Public Health. Their overall goal is to demonstrate the importance of mental health, as well as offering advice on ways to advocate and improve mental health. "The bench is a simple yet powerful vehicle for promoting mental health, from park benches where people gather to football stadiums where players and staff watch their teams play for the joy and promise of sport and success," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "The Friendship Benches project is a powerful reminder of the importance of how health, from mental to physical health, is previous and common to all people and nations, and how, through sports, people can reach out to others, as fellow human beings, in the spirit and solidarity and support."
Additionally, FIFA and the World Cup have created three pillars in support of individuals practicing healthier lifestyles. Pillar one, health promotion, focuses on physical activity, raising awareness on the importance of physical activity, create enabling physical environments, and increase access to physical activity, sport, and exercise services. The first pillar also highlights consumption of a healthy diet and promoting access to healthier food.
Pillar two emphasizes health security, as FIFA work to ensure the safety of the event for its players and spectators. A primary focus of this pillar is on "Addressing measures to protect athletes and youth." Finally, the third pillar, awareness-raising, promotes actions to help individuals of all ages stay health and safe. Looking forward to an action packed and exciting Men's World Cup!