Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat will present for cabinet approval on Sunday a 275 million shekel ($78.6 million) national plan to promote sport and fitness among Israeli youth.
Funding will be given over five years from the Israeli Sports Betting Council budget, the national lottery, the Administrator-General and Official Receiver's Office, the Culture and Sport Ministry and the Education Ministry.
The program's goal is to encourage students to exercise, and through that to fight the phenomenon of obesity among young people. It will include the establishment of soccer and basketball teams as well as groups for other popular activities in towns throughout Israel. The program and its allotted funds are expected to result in the regular participation of some 50,000 youth in athletic activities.
The new plan draws a clear connection between athletics and fighting teen and childhood obesity. A proposal for the plan presented to the government says that "Israel has a low number of athletes as compared with other developed countries in the world. In Israel, in the year 2012, 150,000 athletes were registered, and in 60 percent of towns surveyed, which have more than 1,000 residents, there was no soccer club."
The proposal further explained that the numbers for obesity and chronic illnesses among children are constantly on the rise. The figures for Israel and are among the highest in the Western world, with 26% of children overweight.
"In light of this data, the [Culture and Sport] ministry has made it its goal to increase the [number of youth] participating in sports and exercise."