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History

We’re heading in to our second decade of turning the tide against HIV and AIDS! Check out our interactive timeline of GRS to date.

Grassroot Soccer, Inc. became a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization in 2002. Founder, Tommy Clark, MD conceived of the idea after having played soccer professionally in Zimbabwe where he witnessed first hand both the devastation of HIV and the fanatical popularity of soccer. Together with a group of friends who had similar experiences, he and co-founders Methembe Ndlovu, Ethan Zohn and Kirk Friedrich created Grassroot Soccer. The core group traveled to Zimbabwe in 2002 and with the support of advisory board member, Albert Bandura, consultants and local stakeholders, developed and piloted an interactive soccer-themed HIV prevention curriculum that was first implemented in Zimbabwe in 2003. After a positive independent evaluation of the project by The Children’s Health Council, a Stanford University affiliate group, GRS received a three-year program grant in 2005 from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its work.

An early Grassroot Soccer fundraiser, New York City 2002

Click Here for a letter from GRS Founder/CEO, Dr. Tommy Clark, outlining how GRS came to be.

Ethan Zohn (Co-Founder), a friend of Tommy’s, had just won Survivor: Africa in 2002. A former professional soccer player in Zimbabwe, Ethan generously provided start-up funds for the organization and then tirelessly used every media opportunity to talk about the tragedy of HIV.

In 2005, Kirk Friedrich and Methembe Ndlovu, friends of Tommy and Ethan’s, and instrumental to the organizations success were recognized as co-founders for their commitment to the organization. Methembe rose from a poor township in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to attend Dartmouth College, one of the premier universities in the US, and then returned to Zimbabwe where he captained the national team, the nation’s highest honor for a soccer player. His decision to stay in Zimbabwe and work to turn the tide against HIV has been a true mark of committment. Kirk, GRS Executive Director, has become a leader in the sport for development world with extensive experience in rolling out programs in diverse settings.