HIV/AIDS is a major problem in Africa. According to Avert, “In Zimbabwe around 10 to 15 percent of adults are infected with HIV. In South Africa the HIV prevalence is 17.8 percent.” There are many organizations working towards bringing the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS down. One of these groups is Grassroot Soccer.
Tommy Clark, Methembe Ndlovu, Ethan Zohn, and Kirk Friedrich founded Grassroot Soccer, Inc. Grassroot Soccer’s mission is to “use the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.” One way to help fight the spread of HIV is through the charities “Skillz” curriculm. This curriculum includes “making healthy decisions, avoiding risks, building support networks, reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing knowledge about testing and treatment, addressing gender issues, and addressing values.”
Soccer and professional soccer players are extremely important to the local culture in Africa. That is the reason that soccer has been chosen as the source to spread their message. On their website, they state, “By working within this existing structure and by training role models – pro players, coaches and youth players themselves – to get the message out about healthy behavior and the risks of HIV, we have shown that we can break stigmas, dramatically increase awareness, change behavior, and turn the tide against HIV.”
According to Avert, HIV prevalence has declined, however the number must continue to go down. Grassroot Soccer became a registered charity in 2002 and they are using soccer to make a significant impact in Africa. They work in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. If you want to help Grassroot Soccer by making a donation, you can follow the link here.
Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com