Grassroot Soccer is an international non-profit organisation that uses the power of football to prevent new HIV infections and save lives among youth in countries that have been heavily affected by AIDS.
This summer, the Arsenal Foundation funded Grassroot Soccer holiday camps in Zimbabwe for more than 200 children aged 14 to 16, run by current and former professional footballers trained in health education and mentorship. Two of the teenagers who took part in the camp tell us what they learned…
“The programme was helpful and taught me a lot of things, such as not to rush into sex, even as I get older, and to give love to someone who is HIV positive and not to shun him or her. We were also taught some soccer skills we didn’t know such as the stepover. I think these skills will help improve my game.
“I got to meet some boys from a nearby high school. I’d always wanted to meet one of them, Rufaro, because I’d heard he was really good player. He plays for the Highlander Juniors team and I play for Real Stars but we haven’t played against each other. He’s really good and I learned from him, too.
“I also met Mkhokheli Masuku, a Grassroot Soccer coach and goalkeeper at Division Two side Zim Leopards. He encouraged us to help people living with HIV in our community and to not discriminate.
“Most of all, I learned that to love each other is important in life, that education is key and there is no end to education.”
“I enjoyed every second of the camp. The things I enjoyed most were learning how to play football and acquiring life skills on issues to do with HIV.
“I learned that I should not have multiple sexual partners and that if I get infected with HIV my community and family will be affected too. I also learned that you should not mix sex and alcohol!
“I have met people who can have a positive influence on other peoples’ lives. My coach was strong and demonstrated the activities in a way that made them easy to understand. She taught us well.”
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.