A SPORTS club has held a smoke-free football match to promote healthy behaviour to children.

Maccabi sports and community club held its first smoke-free game which was widely supported by parents.

The campaign, run by local social enterprise Healthier Futures, is a pilot scheme running until March. Healthier Futures visited the club to talk to parents and coaches about the positives of healthy, shared community spaces for families, and the negative impact of smoking on children. There was high support for more smoke-free sports events from parents, with many signing a smokefree sports pledge at the club.

Johnny Cohen, aged 38, from Bury said: “I used to be a smoker and I think smoke-free sports is fabulous. I’m glad that my child will not be subjected to smoking on the side lines.”

James Berger, aged 43, also from Bury added: “This is fantastic, I would like my child to play sport in a smokefree zone. This is a great initiative. I don’t like anyone smoking near my children.”

Demand for smokefree outdoor events and spaces with children present is high across Greater Manchester. A survey carried out by Healthier Futures in 2015, found that 83 per cent of people surveyed agreed that there should be no smoking at outdoor events which are specifically for children and families.

The pilot campaign has been organised by Manchester-based social enterprise Healthier Futures on behalf of Greater Manchester local authorities who want to address the impact of smoking on children.

Cllr Trevor Holt, Bury Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We are committed to tackling the harms caused by tobacco, therefore it is important to ensure our shared outdoor spaces in Bury are healthy, safe places for children to play sports in. We recognise that there is high demand locally for more smokefree events for children and this pilot campaign is an important step in achieving this for Bury. Sports and smoking don’t mix and are not part of a healthy sporting lifestyle. We hope to see more local clubs take this positive step to protect children and families.”

Adrian Kay, chairman of Maccabi sports and community club, added: “I am really excited to be part of this campaign which will protect our children and ensure a healthy smokefree space for them to play in.

“We are always looking for ways to encourage healthy living for the children, their parents, our coaches and other club officials and this underlines our commitment.”