Grassroot Soccer Empowers Half a Million African Youth To Kick AIDS
The loss of life from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa remains tragically unnecessary. Young people are particularly vulnerable to AIDS due to their lack of knowledge about the disease, poor access to health care and lack of education and life skills.
Soccer can inspire, unleash potential, mobilize communities, and save lives. In the 1990s, four players from one of Africa’s top professional teams saw their teammates, friends and community members die from AIDS. They decided they had to do something. In 2002, they founded Grassroot Soccer (GRS), an organization that uses the power of soccer to save lives by preventing the spread of HIV among those with the most new infections – young people in sub-Saharan Africa.
By harnessing the power of the world’s most popular game, GRS has empowered 500,000 youth in Africa to make life-saving decisions and lead AIDS-free, healthy, productive lives. GRS uses an innovative model of delivering HIV prevention and life skills through the universal language of soccer.
The foundation of Grassroot Soccer’s proven approach is respected local leaders, participatory learning and community support. GRS trains community leaders and professional soccer players as coaches who equip 12 to 19 year olds with the knowledge, skills and support they need to break the cycle of AIDS and transform the course of their lives.
Research evaluations of the GRS program, from institutions from Harvard to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, indicate a positive impact on knowledge, attitudes and communication related to HIV. After completing the GRS program, students are much more likely to speak with their family and friends about HIV and help care for a family member with AIDS.
They are much less likely than their peers to stigmatize a classmate with HIV, a major barrier to stopping the spread of AIDS. One study showed that GRS graduates in Zimbabwe were four to eight times less likely than their peers to begin having sex between the ages of 12 and 15, have had sex in the last year and have had more than one sexual partner.
GRS has incorporated HIV testing and referral services into their programs. For example, in Zambia, the percentage of GRS graduates who chose to have an HIV test is four times the national average for young people. To date, 34,000 people have taken an HIV test at GRS events. Often these events are “Testing Tournaments”, which combine a fun day of soccer and games with free and easy access to health services.
Mubanga, a 15-year-old GRS graduate from Lusaka, Zambia, credits GRS as the catalyst for changing his life and making healthy decisions. “Coach Inonge has really affected my life in a good way. I realize that there is more to life than just alcohol and drugs,” he says. “I too would really like to be a good role model.” As part of his newfound outlook, Mubanga chose to have a voluntary HIV test at a GRS graduation testing event.
HIV is 100 percent preventable, and Grassroot Soccer’s goal is nothing short of an AIDS-free generation. By World Cup 2014, GRS will provide AIDS education for 1 million young people, refer thousands to testing and treatment, and empower young people throughout Africa as leaders in the HIV prevention revolution.
More About This Charity
Health and Well Being
Grassroot Soccer uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV by empowering African youth to make life-saving decisions.
- This Achievement raised $10,000,000
- This charity raised $6,500,000 in the past year
- This Achievement helped 500,000 people
- This charity helped 120,000 people in the past year
- 500,000 youth educated on HIV prevention, 34,000 individuals tested for HIV
South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Sudan, C.A.R., DRC