HIV prevention in action: Grassroot Soccer mobilizes young people to stop the spread of HIV
05 May 2011
During the meeting of the UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention, which is taking place in South Africa this week, commissioners took time out to visit the Grassroot Soccer initiative in Capetown.
The commissioners visited the Football for Hope Centre during a Skillz Street practice session involving around 100 girls. Grassroot Soccer uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV. It builds basic life skills that help boys and girls adopt healthy behaviours and live risk-free.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé thoroughly enjoyed getting a chance to play football with the girls and was struck by the impact the centre is having on the community. “Here in Khayelitsha, the Football Centre for Hope is not just a project. It is a social meeting point for girls to protect themselves from HIV and become tomorrow’s football stars,” he said.
“Grassroot Soccer is restoring dignity and building self-esteem of young girls living in a challenging environment, transforming them into actors for the HIV prevention revolution.”
Grassroot Soccer is restoring dignity and building self-esteem of young girls living in a challenging environment, transforming them into actors for the HIV prevention revolution.
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director
The delegation also had a chance to interact with the local staff and coaches to hear about how the programme and curriculum work, as well as the other types of HIV prevention and testing interventions they run in the community.
UNAIDS partnered with Grassroot Soccer in the development of the Skillz Curriculum which includes interactive activities for young people to learn about HIV and get a chance to practice the skills necessary for sustainable behaviour change. Topics in the curriculum include making healthy decisions, avoiding risks, building support networks, reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing knowledge about testing and treatment, addressing gender issues, and assessing values. Each of the commissioners received a set of Skillz Magazines and Skillz Coaches Training DVD.
In 2002 Tommy Clark, the founder and CEO, started Grassroot Soccer with friends who had played professional soccer together in Zimbabwe. They instinctively knew that soccer represented an opportunity in the fight against HIV. The organization has been operating in South Africa since 2006.
Learn more about Grassroot Soccer in this brief video overview: