Futbol Mas is an award-winning social programme using football and play to teach children resilience and life skills and to bring communities together. The Brain and Mind Institute has joined East Africa’s
Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health to deepen AKU’s ties with the organisation.
The collaboration will:
- Help expand the network of support for youth sports, resilience, and health, including mental health.
- Share best practices in the implementation of community programmes.
- Develop the evidence base for investments in these programmes, by conducting monitoring, evaluation and learning activities.
- Support advocacy work with government, business, donor, and community organizations.
The BMI is preparing to deploy leading neuroscience and mental health experts in measuring the psychosocial determinants of mental health associated with this project and to make recommendations for translating lessons pertaining to resilience and capacity building globally. This evidence based on the efficacy of the programmes, including a pioneering cost-benefit analysis to be undertaken by a specialized mental health economist and other implementation science specialists, will be informative to governments, businesses, and community organizations. Likewise, similar evidence on mental health outcomes for program participants, their families, and their communities will be developed to broaden engagement and expand programming.
The pathway to sustainability involves the establishment of social enterprises that work with government, business, and donors to embed the program in national, regional, and local health, sport, and community financing structures while providing business training and employment opportunities for community youth. This will require the development of “how to” guidelines and training programs for Futbol Mas youth leaders and development of donor support for start-up implementation costs. It will also involve close coordinate with government ministries responsible for education, employment, and social supports. Broadening the reach of Futbol Mas programming beyond operational programs into a system of advocacy for highly effective community-based empowerment and health-promoting activities will attract the sustained support of public and private funders.