In late 2011, with the support of the ExxonMobil Foundation, Grassroot Soccer began partnering with the Youth Development Initiative (YEDI) in Nigeria. YEDI is a Nigerian NGO committed to introducing effective and innovative approaches to educating, empowering, and inspiring people and communities. Combining GRS’s proven and effective educational approach with YEDI’s strong ties in the Lagos region, “Grazrutsoka” was borne.
Grazrutsoka adapts the GRS model to the Nigerian context through Skillz Naija (or “Skillz Nigeria”) an in-school and faith based program. Skillz Naija is a culture, mindset, and toolkit for educators to use when teaching young people about HIV/AIDS, malaria prevention and life skills. It creates simple but powerful connections between soccer and life skills.
Beginning in November 2011, Grazrutsoka introduced a five-week pilot project in six public schools and one church in Lagos. The initiative trained twenty Skillz coaches, who delivered the Skillz Naija curriculum in the selected public schools. By the second week of December 2011, over 200 kids graduated from the program. A second similar project took place in six other schools in Lagos during the months of February and March of 2012. Both pilot projects were successful, and the program expanded in 2012 to reach more students. To date, over 4,000 young Nigerians have graduated from the Grazrutoska program, and the program aims to reach 12,000 youth in 2013.
According to Grazrutsoka Coach Oluku Uche, “I have learnt more about HIV/AIDS and malaria with the help of Grazrutsoka, and I have changed my family, friends and kid’s perceptions about these diseases.”
This year the program is off to an inspired start with the recent victory of the Nigeria Men’s National Team (the “Super Eagles”) at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. As Fatima Umeike, Grazrutsoka Program Officer says about the win: “It was a victorious one indeed against all odds. For me, it just means that it doesn’t matter where you are coming from or how you started but it’s how much you put in to attain victory in all aspects of your life.” The team’s victory has sparked national pride and will serve to strengthen the power of soccer to deliver important messages to youth throughout the country.
For more info on Grazrutsoka, visit the YEDI website.