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Goal!! First smoke-free football match hits back of the net in Rochdale

08 February 2017

Smoke free football match.

Rochdale's Smokefree Sports pilot kicked-off in style with its first match at Bridge Juniors Football Club on Saturday, 4 February 2017.

Parents and coaches who smoke were asked to watch from the side lines without lighting up in a bid to promote healthy behaviour to children.

The match was a game changer and widely supported by parents who called for 'more children's sports events to be smoke-free.' Many parents, club staff and children signed a smoke-free sports pledge at the club to support the campaign.

'Smokefree Sports is a great idea'

Louise Holmes, 34, who lives in Oldham said: "Smokefree Sports is a great idea. I don' t smoke and I wouldn't want my children and the other children to be around smoking.

"Anything that deters smoking is a great idea. If I saw someone smoking here or next to me I would tell them to move away and inform them about the smokefree restrictions."

David Hadley, from Oldham said: "This is a great idea because when I had cancer and was visiting Christies to be treated there were lots of people standing outside the door next to the no smoking signs and smoking. It would be great to do this campaign around hospitals and places like that.

"Smokefree Sports is a great initiative as it is better for everyone, the children and other spectators standing next to people smoking. It is better for kids not to see it. I would go forward and tell people about the smoke-free zones."

'Everyone working together to encourage children to live healthy lives'

Healthier Futures, a local social enterprise which has developed the campaign, were on hand with the council's stop smoking service to help parents and coaches kick the habit by providing information about the positives of healthy, shared community spaces for families, and the negative impact of smoking on children's health.

Bridge Juniors Football Club secretary, Barry Woodburn, said: "The Smokefree Sports pilot scheme has been widely supported throughout the club by all of our volunteer staff, parents, wider family members and children of all ages. It is great to see everyone working together to encourage children to live healthy lives and create a safe place at our home base in Bamford for all 27 of our Bridge Junior Football teams to play in.

"The pilot scheme has been really successful and I hope other sports clubs will now implement a smoke-free policy so all children can benefit from more smoke-free spaces."

The match was the first to take place in Rochdale as part of the pilot scheme, run by Healthier Futures in partnership with Rochdale Borough Council, which will run at all the club's matches and training sessions until March 2017. It is hoped that Smokefree Sports will be rolled out permanently across the borough.

'Let's be positive role models for our children'

Councillor Janet Emsley, Rochdale Borough Council's cabinet member for culture, health and wellbeing, said: "It was fantastic to see so many parents and coaches really getting behind this smoke-free initiative and being positive role models for our children. Playing sports is a brilliant way to stay fit and healthy but we all know smoking is extremely harmful, the two just don't mix! This scheme is a giant leap towards encouraging generations of healthy and happy children who can play together in a smokefree borough. I hope to see more and more sports clubs protecting our young people by going smokefree."

Andres Crossfield, chief executive of Healthier Futures, said: "This is a positive step forward which will help to promote healthy behaviour to children and create more family-friendly spaces.  

"In Greater Manchester, 83% of people surveyed agreed that there should be no smoking at outdoor events which are specifically for children and families. We hope other sports clubs will listen to local people and implement a smokefree policy.

 "The more spaces that become smokefree, the less likely children are to take up smoking – preventing them from entering into a deadly addiction that kills 1 in 2 long-term smokers."

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