Grassroot Soccer: Teaching youth life skills through soccer
South Africa – Grassroot Soccer (GRS) is a South African based, not for profit organization. Its mission is to use the power of soccer in the fight against AIDS by providing African youth with the knowledge, skills, and support to remain HIV free. Founded by former professional soccer players in 2002, GRS trains African soccer stars, soccer coaches, teachers, and young peer educators in the worlds most HIV-affected countries to deliver an interactive HIV prevention curriculum to youth. GRS focus its efforts in delivering an innovative education program to and by youth. The curriculum focuses on building basic life skills that help young people, to adopt healthy behaviors and live risk-free. Through a series of interactive games, activities, and discussions students gain a tangible understanding of core messages related to HIV/AIDS and get a chance to practice the skills necessary for sustainable behavior change.
Key topics in the GRS curriculum include healthy decision-making, avoiding risks, building support networks, reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing knowledge about testing and treatment, addressing gender issues, and assessing values. After having completed the curriculum the students graduate with a ceremony. GRS graduates are also given tools such as Extra Time Magazine, which is a unique communications tool that includes messages and interviews with many of the Worlds top soccer stars. It also reviews the topics covered in the GRS curriculum and provides a tool for the graduates to serve as peer educators by sharing their knowledge with the community at large.
- July 2008 – $5,000 for Grassroot Soccer program in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. GPA was interested in becoming a funder of GRS so we might benefit from the excellent learning approach of this well-designed and evaluated program. Our African advisors also thought the program might be usefully extended to other countries where we make grants.