BANYANA Banyana star Mpumi Nyandeni has been appointed by Fifa to serve as one of the 11 global soccer stars who will promote messages encouraging people to take care of their health.
The other big names include reigning Fifa Player of the Year Lionel Messi of Argentina, Ghana's Michael Essien, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Michael D'Hooghe, chairperson of Fifa's medical committee, said the project would enable the world soccer body to deliver health education through the beautiful game.
He said the project had the backing of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Fifa chief medical officer Professor Jiri Dvorak, who is in Sun City for a 2010 Fifa World Cup workshop, said the world body's priority was not only to improve the health of players, but also the community at large.
"The football players have each adopted 11 key health messages addressing such important topics as having respect for girls and women, adopting a healthy diet and being diligent about one's hands and others," Dvorak said.
"The '11 for Health' (project) is based on an analysis of the top health risks factors identified by the WHO. A pilot study using football as an educational health tool was conducted throughout last year in Khayelitsha involving children between the ages of 11 and 15.
"If the results are as convincing as the first pilot project, we aim to roll out 11 for Health across Africa and South America from next year. Lack of fitness is the No1 cause of death in our society. A healthy and effective way of preventing this is by playing football."