Every year in December, more than 300 stars, footballers, philanthropists, and leaders in business and media come together at the Grassroot Soccer World AIDS Day Gala in London to support our work to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people in challenging circumstances to live healthier lives.
In 2017, the highlight of the evening was David Beckham, OBE discussing his life ‘on and off the pitch’ with TV presenter Rachel Riley. He spoke movingly about his own charity work to support vulnerable children and how this along with bringing up his own four children with his wife Victoria is the focus of his life now. He said: “The challenges of adolescence are universal — but for youth growing up in difficult circumstances, they can be a matter of life and death. I’ve seen this first hand, and I know that we must do everything we can to provide young girls and boys with the opportunity to live healthy lives. That’s what Grassroot Soccer is doing and it’s working.”
Rachel Riley commented: “The beauty of Grassroot Soccer’s approach is that they are tackling very serious health issues by connecting with teenage girls and boys through football, creating a safe and fun environment to learn life-saving information.”
Other notable guests included comedian Jack Whitehall, singer songwriter Ronan Keating along with his wife, fashion designer and producer-director Storm Keating, singer-songwriter Anastacia, legendary football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, CBE, TV presenter Davina McCall, model and TV presenter Lilly Becker, and Strictly Come Dancing star Pasha Kovalev. They were joined by many footballers, including United States international and Women’s World Cup winners Christen Press, who is an ambassador for the organisation, former United States international, Women’s World Cup winner and current Arsenal player Heather O’Reilly, United States International and Women’s World Cup winner Tobin Heath, and former pro footballers Phil Neville and Quinton Fortune.
A soccer pitch transformed the venue and provided guests the opportunity to observe and participate in demonstrations of Grassroot Soccer’s vital programme it uses in Africa to educate and inspire young people to save lives and give them hope for the future. The demonstrations were led by coaches from Zambia and South Africa. Guests were also treated to a performance by London’s internationally renowned Capital Children’s Choir and Duduesta, the UK’s leading professional African marimba band.
The evening was sponsored by Belvedere Vodka, Kiehl’s, Atelier Cologne, and Tesla.
There was fierce bidding in the auction. Among the hottest prizes of the night were a Getty Images Premier League experience offering the opportunity to be a professional match photographer for a day, and an exclusive painting by renowned artist Nicola Green, featuring an image of David Beckham striking a football and signed by the subject himself.
To view additional photos from the gala throughout the years, please watch the slideshow below.