33   91
18   95
16   140
21   216
63   432
39   203
41   169
16   131
27   136
29   108


Love of football is as much a part of British culture as queueing, tea and Sunday Roasts. People take great pride in supporting their teams through thick and thin and this sports mania reaches gargantuan levels when a major tournament takes place.

Sadly, this fervour walks hand in hand with some less than healthy habits that many football fans are guilty of. Whether you’re watching a match at a thunderous stadium, your local pub or at home on the telly, all too often the experience is coupled with lots of alcohol, junk food and very strong reactions to losses – adrenaline, drink and an excess of passion and pride sometimes even leads to violence.

So why not use love of football to our advantage? Afterall, first and foremost – it’s a sport. Sport = exercise = healthy! And the best way to turn football into a positive force in your family is to get the kids involved. What better way to get the heart rate going and getting some fresh air than going outside to kick the ball around. Maybe even set yourself fun challenges – train like your favourite players or whoever scores the most goals gets their choice of dessert!

Watching a match itself can be a reward – if your kids want to watch a match on TV or, better yet, at a stadium, they’ll need to complete X hours of exercise or do Y number of chores around the house. Same goes for mum and dad. There are a precious few years when your kids believe in magic and happily retreat into a world of innocent make-belief, and it’s always a little heartbreaking when your kids grow out of that and start becoming small adults. But long after they’ve come to terms that Santa isn’t real, football can remain a loving family activity – and with parents joining in, it’ll help keep those beer bellies and muffin tops at bay!

Indoctrinating kids into supporting a team is analogous to religious zeal, but instead of this process just being conditioned behaviour, why not turn grooming your young new fanbase into a nice bonding activity. For parents with busy schedules and long work hours, finding some one-on-one time with the kids can become very tricky, especially as they get older.

But if you use family time to discuss something everyone can get excited about, your little ones will be that much more keen to switch off their screens and spend quality time with their parents – teach them about the history of their club, maybe fun facts about favourite players, the most amazing football moments of all time – the earliest forms of football date back centuries, so there should be plenty to talk about.

You can also turn fandom into some fun craft projects – making banners, painting posters or even designing your own football kit. On the flip side, if you want some peace and quiet from your hormonal teenagers, encourage them to do football after school or join a local club.

With regards to the aforementioned impassioned reactions to match outcomes, football can actually be a very useful tool in teaching your kids some life lessons. All too often we see stories of unruly fans turning stadiums or their local into a gladiator ring, exchanging insults about each other’s teams or smug acting out upon victory. Life is going to be full of triumphs and great disappointments and it’s important to teach the younger generations how to deal with both eventualities in a healthy and responsible way. Kids don’t do what we say, but they do copy what we do.

Use football to set an example about how to accept loss, take it in stride and not let it make you give up – through thick and thin, you stay loyal to your team, whoever that may be, and you keep trying. Conversely, you can show how to enjoy victory with class – show respect to your opponents, relish the moment, acknowledge everyone’s efforts and most importantly – don’t brag or gloat.

Football’s ability in bringing people together is really incredible – that buzz and team spirit is seldom found elsewhere – so carry that energy into your daily lives and turn watching football from a sluggish TV marathon to an active and affectionate family tradition.

Thank you for reading.


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