June 23, Cape Town, South Africa – Grassroot Soccer staff, coaches, and participants had the honor of meeting First Lady Michelle Obama along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu during her visit to South Africa. Grassroot Soccer (GRS) is an international NGO that uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities against the spread of HIV. To date, GRS has educated 400,000 young Africans in HIV prevention towards a goal of 1 million youth by World Cup 2014. As part of her mission to inspire young people, Mrs. Obama paid a special visit to Cape Town Stadium, home of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where she addressed a group of 100 youth and participated in HIV prevention activities led by GRS coaches.
During her briefing with Tommy Clark, M.D., GRS Founder & CEO and Mphakiseng Molefe, Assistant Master Coach, Mrs. Obama and Archbishop Tutu learned about the history and mission of Grassroot Soccer. Mphakiseng told her story of growing up in a risky environment and how GRS enabled her to overcome the challenges she faced as a young South African woman. Her experience with Grassroot Soccer now allows her to teach young people to make the best decisions for their future. She also shared how GRS has given her unique opportunities to become a youth leader in her community. Mrs. Obama was moved by Mphakiseng’s passion and commitment to helping young people – a shining example of the young leadership championed by the First Lady.
Mrs. Obama and Archbishop Tutu participated in two Grassroot Soccer Skillz activities designed to teach HIV prevention and life skills to young people. They cheered on the students and dribbled a soccer ball alongside them, demonstrating their enthusiasm for youth education and empowerment.
“Meeting Michelle Obama is a day I’ll never forget. There she was – powerful, beautiful, caring – what a role model for the young people in Grassroot Soccer and around the world,” said Dr. Clark.