Carlo Cudicini entertained some participants from the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation's HOPE project at White Hart Lane this week, as he gave a boost to a healthy lifestyle project for older people.
Extra Time is a highly successful initiative aimed at helping the over-55s stay active and healthy that is funded by Sport Relief and the Football Foundation.
HOPE (Helping Older People Exercise), is a beneficiary of the fund, and has been running successfully at Jubilee Court Sheltered Accomodation in Waltham Abbey, Essex, since October last year.
At Tuesday's event, Carlo was challenged to take part in a range of health-based Nintendo Wii games by some participants (see video clip), when it was revealed that the Football Foundation and Sport Relief will be expanding the Extra Time programme.
The goalkeeper said: "Exercise is essential for staying fit and healthy, not just if you are a Premier League footballer. I know it is hard for a lot of people to find the time or get the opportunity so it is really good news that the Football Foundation and Sport Relief are funding the Extra Time project. In some ways, it is even more essential that older people look after themselves properly, and the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation's HOPE project is a great way of giving many that opportunity."
Community coaches at 15 professional football clubs have been delivering Extra Time projects across the country since September 2008, which offer older people in the community the chance to take part in sport-based healthy activity sessions. Physical activity is one of the most important factors in maintaining a good quality of life, as those who are physically active have more energy and are far more able to cope with daily routines. Regular exercise can also help reduce stress.
One key focus of the programme is the link between physical activity and stronger bones and muscles. The exercise programme will improve participants' balance, strength, suppleness and mobility - therefore likely to give them more independence in later life.
Another key success of the scheme has been helping participants to build social networks. Isolation for this section of society was identified as an increasing issue. Extra Time will therefore continue to not only improve the health and wellbeing of this group but also reduce the social exclusion that many face.
Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive of Sport Relief added: "For a number of years Comic Relief has awarded grants that help older people across the UK get access to the support they need. We are proud to announce that this successful programme will be extended, helping to provide a valuable service for a greater number of older people across England and Wales, improving their health and fitness as well as strengthening social and community links."
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: "Extra Time has made an immense difference to improving the quality of life for older people by providing important opportunities to stay fit and healthy which would otherwise not exist. I am particularly grateful to Carlo Cudicini for taking the time to support this expansion of the scheme. Premier League footballers are critical role models for all age groups."
"Due to the success of the initial 15-Club pilot, ourselves and Sport Relief have agreed to provide additional funding to roll out further Extra Time projects, so today we are inviting more professional football clubs to apply."
The Extra Time programme is being delivered by community coaches at 15 professional football clubs.