Grassroot Soccer (GRS) South Africa recently received the Impumelelo Social Innovations Platinum Award for its SKILLZ Street programme and its contribution to the development of South Africa. The Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre awards outstanding individuals and organizations for work that solves public problems and improves the lives of South Africans. GRS South Africa Managing Director James Donald, along with staff members Vuyolweth Kayi, Rebecca Hershow, Mphaki Molefe, and Coach Sonwabise Dick, attended the December 1st awards ceremony hosted at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and accepted the award on the team’s behalf.
SKILLZ Street targets 13- to 15-year-old girls with a programme that uses Fair Play soccer and female Caring Coaches in response to the need for rights-based, gender-responsive violence and HIV prevention programmes in South Africa. SKILLZ Street aims to empower young women to avoid risky behaviour and protect themselves and others from the spread of HIV; increase belief in equitable gender norms and reduce belief in prevailing gender stereotypes; and increase access to and uptake of services providing voluntary HIV counselling and testing, HIV and sexually transmitted infection treatment, contraception and unplanned pregnancy care, and medical, social, and legal support for violence against women. Mphaki Molefe, Community Project Coordinator for SKILLZ Street, described her personal investment into SKILLZ Street: “I love, love SKILLZ Street…It’s changing girl’s lives…It’s about the curriculum, but it’s also about connecting with the girls and being that female role model around them.”
SKILLZ Street received the award after a rigorous evaluation process from development experts at the Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre. SKILLZ Street was evaluated through a written application, interviews with GRS staff and SKILLZ Street beneficiaries, reviews of legal and financial documentation, and a final oral presentation in front of a panel of experts. When asked what receiving the Impumelelo Award for SKILLZ Street means to Grassroot Soccer, Rebecca Hershow, Curriculum Development and Research Coordinator, said, “Our GRS staff on the ground work so hard every day to make SKILLZ Street a reality; it’s great to see them recognized for their dedication to the project.”