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Trevor Noah Visits Grassroot Soccer for Red Nose Day

Comic ReliefIn between a series of sold out shows at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre Centre, internationally known South African comedian Trevor Noah visited the Grassroot Soccer Football for Hope Centre in Khayelitsha.

Trevor Noah

South African comedian Trevor Noah visits Grassroot Soccer's Football for Hope Centre in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, for Comic Relief's annual Red Nose Day in the U.K. Noah learned about the organization's SKILLZ Street program for girls and participated in soccer-based HIV awareness activities on the FFHC pitch. Here, Coach George teaches the girls a game called HIV Attacks, which explains how HIV attacks the human immune system.

In support of Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day today, 13 March 2015, Trevor Noah recently spent time with Grassroot Soccer Caring Coaches and participants to learn about the organization’s efforts to combat the spread of HIV in South Africa through the power of football.

Noah spoke with female Coaches and participants about the difficulties of life in Khayelitsha and how they foster hope amongst themselves and their peers through the Grassroot Soccer Coach Development program and soccer-based SKILLZ Street curriculum. Noah joined the young women and girls in a series of SKILLZ activities, including Find the Ball and HIV Attacks.

Trevor Noah and SKILLZ Street group

Trevor Noah and Grassroot Soccer participants and Coaches.

Noah shared his impressions at the end of the visit, “Coming back to the townships as somebody that grew up here, as somebody that lived here, you realise that one of the most important things that we’re deprived of in South Africa growing up, was hope. And that’s what people get here at Grassroot Soccer. You’ve got young girls who come together and get a chance to be something greater than just their surroundings.”

Trevor Noah

Coach Sony (in black t-shirt) explains the day's activities to participants and Trevor Noah.

Comic Relief is a major UK charity started in 1985, with the mission to drive positive change through the power of entertainment. Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day is a bi-annual event in the UK to raise funds for organisations working in the UK and across Africa. As a recipient of Comic Relief funding, Grassroot Soccer is able to use the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilize young people to stop the spread of HIV.

Check out video from the visit below:

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Girls First Project Given Vital Funding From Cityzens Giving

Girls in KhayelitshaGirls First, a project run by Grassroot Soccer in South Africa, has received funding from Cityzens Giving, a charitable football initiative made possible by City Football Group, whose family of clubs include Manchester City FC, New York City FC and Melbourne City FC.

The scheme, which is the first of its kind, gave tens of thousands of Cityzens (Club members) the opportunity to pledge £5 ($8 US dollars) to six charity football projects across the world.  A £400,000 ($600,000 US dollars) charitable fund has been split between projects in Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester, Melbourne, New York and Barranquilla. Through the power of football, the projects will improve the lives of more than 2,000 young people in disadvantaged communities.

Through Girls First, Grassroot Soccer is training female coaches to implement SKILLZ Street, our girls empowerment and health program, creating increased opportunities for girls and young women to participate in soccer programs, and providing financial education opportunities to young female players.

Mphakiseng Molefe, one of the project leaders for Girls First, said: “Girls First is using the power of soccer to teach girls about HIV and AIDS, empower them in terms of their self-confidence and their self-esteem, how to deal with gender-based violence, how to break gender norms and bring gender equality.”

Find out more information about Cityzens Giving and the other projects making a difference, at mcfc.co.uk/cityzensgiving.

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Changing the Game for Girls

Girl playing soccerGrassroot Soccer is excited to share our most recent research publication, which investigates one of our programs for adolescent girls in South Africa. The article “Using soccer to build confidence and increase HCT uptake among adolescent girls: a mixed-methods study of an HIV prevention programme in South Africa” was published in Sport in Society, 2015. Read the article here. 

At Grassroot Soccer, we think it is critical to have a meaningful vision for how we use sport as a means to promote the transformation of inequalities that shape girls’ disproportionate HIV risk. In South Africa, HIV prevalence among girls 15-19 is eight times higher than among boys of the same age (Shisana et al, 2014.)

We advocate for engaging men and boys as partners in promoting gender equality and continue to work with diverse partners to understand our role in reshaping the social and structural factors that constrain girls from reaching their potential.

While we acknowledge that social change is complex, we hold a strong conviction that individuals and groups of adolescent girls already have the potential to transcend their own circumstances – no matter how latent or overlooked their power is. We see time and again that, given the opportunity, girls thrive. We think soccer is a powerful mechanism for creating social capital among adolescents and helping girls question the roles and expectations that shape gender. Girls can see themselves in our Coaches – young female leaders from their communities. When girls bond with our Coaches, the connection often triggers a sense of new possibilities.

Importantly, in our research, we found that of the 1,953 participants offered HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT), 68.5% tested – more than 4 times the estimated national average among this age group. All participants who tested positive were referred for support services. HCT is the gateway to a continuum of services for people living with HIV and has been shown to correspond to safer sexual behavior. We also found statistically significant improvements in HIV-related knowledge, attitudes and communication, which were attributed to the girls’ participation in GRS activities. Qualitative findings highlighted the value girls placed on coach–participant relationships and their improvements in self-efficacy to avoid HIV.

Grassroot Soccer is in the process of conducting further research to gauge the impact of its work with adolescent girls, including measuring experiences of violence as well as health and education outcomes of those girls participating in our sport programs.