This is discussion about Grassroot Soccer: Using the Power of Soccer in the Fight Against AIDS.
Your initiative is terrific!
The potential outreach in the next few years, as World Cup fever rises, is massive. As we have talked about before, we at Spirit of Football would like for "The Ball" to visit some of your locations in 2010 and highlight the great work you are doing.
I'm not sure if you know much about participatory video. It is something that we think is very interesting indeed. I think it could be really well suited to GrassrootSoccer.
Keep up the great work!
University of Erfurt
Spirit of Football - football's equivalent to the Olympic Torch
Dear Mr. Clark:
I am curious about your model, you indicate that you hire local professional athletes to work with the kids on a daily basis. Could you provide more details on this? How have those in the professional ranks responded to their experience and are they remunerated for their time?
Thank you for your response,
Several players from top teams in the Zimbabwe and Botswana Premier Soccer
Leagues and the Women's National Teams work as GRS trainers. They do receive
a small stipend, as do most GRS trainers. GRS was founded on this model of
training professional players to act as role models in the fight against
HIV/AIDS. Theoretically, the model is based on Social Learning Theory - the idea that adolescents will learn best from role models whom they truly admire. The players have responded tremendously to this program and
several have worked with us for more than 3 years now. We have also worked
with pro players in Lesotho and South Africa, but generally on a shorter
term basis (attending events, etc.).
Don't hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions. Dr. Clark or I would be happy to discuss them in person as well.
Thanks for your interest,
Kirk Friedrich (on behalf of Dr. Clark)
Managing Director, Grassroot Socccer
We have worked with pro players in a variety of ways. By way of background, I and many of the people in the Grassroot Soccer organization, played professional soccer in Africa and so have a good understanding of and connection to this world. In the early days in Zimbabwe, top professional and national team players from both mens and womens team delivered the entire program. As we expanded and saw the limitation of that we started using pro players in more strategic ways, having them involved in more high impact areas of the curriculum (eg "coaches story" where they talk openly about how HIV has impacted them and what they are doing about it). I hope that helps,
I am impressed with this project, and thanks to Mr. Thomas Clark, Kirk Friedrich, and the rest of the team for the good job. It's so amazing to see an organisation sharing visions as mine, using soccer as a tool to educate people about HIV/ADS and ultimately, foster change, and Sports & Development. I will be happy to join your organisation or share views with you. I have worked with a leading international soccer website, Goal.com, for seven years and have just resigned as their Africa Editor. I also co-founded a US-based NGO (NeonCirc) and we focus on "HIV Prevention For The Next Generation." Please see my profile on the International Platform on Sport and Development to have more details about me and my work, and how I can be of help to your organization. http://www.sportanddev.org/en/team-players/see-all-team-players/ibrahim-...
Also see an indepth editorial I wrote on the Power Of Football In Africa: http://goal.com/en/articolo.aspx?contenutoid=338731
My contact details are email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
It looks like there are some great collaboration opportunities here! I encourage you to check out other soccer programs in Africa that have entered this competition. Together, much could be accomplished! From your application is seems that the target population for your program is youth ages 12-18. Does your program have the capacity to reach out to a broader audience that are outside that age range?
The curriculum is particularly designed for adolescents, keeping in mind that one-half of all new HIV infections (over 4 million new infections in 2006!) occur among youth. However, GRS' influence certainly extends beyond that target audience. Through participation in the program, adolescents are empowered to become role models within their own communities - to spread their knowledge and positive energy. A recent study in Botswana found that the average GRS graduate shares his/her knowledge with 5-8 others (peers, family members, teammates, etc).
Moreover, GRS reaches a broader audience through community-wide graduations. These graduation ceremonies (frequently held at soccer games or in other public venues) not only give graduates a sense of honor for their accomplishment, but also allow them to set a positive example, confronting HIV/AIDS publicly, in front of thousands of supportive family members, friends, and other soccer-enthusiasts. We truly see collaborating with FIFA to integrate HIV prevention into the 2010 World Cup as an opportunity to reach the broadest possible audience, as 1 billion people worldwide will have their TV sets tuned in on South Africa.
So the short answer to your question is that the curriculum is specially designed for maximum impact among adolescents, as they have incredible power to halt the spread of HIV by making responsible decisions about sexual behavior. The longer answer is, as mentioned above, that Grassroot Soccer's influence extends far beyond the direct implementation of the curriculum itself.
Director, College KickAIDS Campaign, Grassroot Soccer
Check out this recent story and video by FIFA on Grassroot Soccer and "Football's Fight Against AIDS" in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Congratulations! Your program is fabulous. The number of volunteers on the program(110-150) is fantastic.It sure is a challenge to get people in the community interested and engaged on an initiative.
I too submitted my entry this competition- Goal: Reaching New Heights, which is a Women's Empowerment program from India using netball as a means of social change.
Reading about your program sets me thinking about the role that Professional players can have on youth. We don ot have too many professional netball palyers associated as yet on our program and this could be a good area to explore and give our girls exposure.
It’s nice to read about your organization innovative work you’re doing as your contribution to alleviate effect of AIDS in Africa through power of soccer in the ‘Sport for Better World’ Nike and Changemakers competition.
I found the model and methodology Grassroot Soccer is using through partnering with like minded organization and using professional players (role models) to achieve their aim very effective.
And also appreciate your organization target groups of age 10 -18 boys and girls. But I’m just wondering how you intend to graduate 1 million youth by World Cup 2010 if you’ve graduated 50,000 so far.
Do you intend to achieve this with your existing 8 areas of operation; Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Sudan, Liberia, Botswana, and Lesotho? Or you are planning to expand to other countries?
There had been a slight miscommunication, which has since been corrected. The 50,000 figure only included graduates from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. The new 195,000 figure is up-to-date and includes all GRS graduates from our partnering organizations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Liberia, and Cote d’Ivoire. Over 99,000 youth graduated in 2007 alone. This means we will still have to scale up considerably over the next two years to reach our goal of 1 million graduates. We hope that Changemakers can help us in that regard, by increasing our profile, lending further credibility to our successful programs, and exposing our model to new potential partners both in the countries where we operate and also in new countries.
Everyday while walking around Dartmouth College, I see at least one yellow Grassroot Soccer t-shirt. In addition to Grassroot Soccer's amazing work in sub-Saharan Africa, the organization has done a remarkable job over the last year in mobilizing American college and high school students in the fight against AIDS. This fall semester, 25 schools ran charity 3v3 soccer tournaments to raise money and awareness for GRS - over 2,000 students played in tournaments around the country. The Kick AIDS campaign expects to reach at least 40 campuses this spring.
Even more impressive, Grassroot Soccer finished 2nd place in the GrabLife GiveLife online voting competition sponsored by Dodge this fall. In just a month, GRS received 20,000 votes from college students at 261 schools around the country, winning the 2nd place prize of $6,000. The organization has truly been able to leverage Facebook and MySpace to inspire students into action. If GRS is selected as a finalist in Changemakers, college students will come out in droves to support this entry by voting and getting their friends to vote.
Kudos to GRS not only for its inspiring HIV prevention work in Africa, but also for mobilizing US students to fight the world's most terrible disease.
I think one of the things that really makes GRS stand out in this competition is its dedication to continuous evaluation. Truly, this is a weakness of many organizations within the SFD field – they’re driven more by passion and ideas than by achieving real results. GRS, however, shows its impact and its potential through academic articles, conference presentations, and published evaluations. I’m working on one such evaluation for my honors thesis at Dartmouth, which is advised by two medical anthropologists and an epidemiologist.
For the past year, I have traveled back and forth to the Dominican Republic, where I have observed and evaluated a GRS-inspired HIV prevention program that works with Haitian migrant youth. Despite being born in the DR, many Dominicans-of-Haitian-descent are denied documentation based on the color of their skin and treated as fourth-class citizens. Yet, the GRS-inspired program, called Fútbol Para la Vida, which has translated the activities-based GRS curriculum to Spanish, empowers youth to take control of their lives and make responsible decisions.
My research follows up on the Zimbabwe study referenced in the entry, evaluating the Dominican Republic program. 142 adolescents (100 who participated, 42 who did not) were interviewed to assess their knowledge and self-efficacy attitudes prior to, immediately after, and four months following the program. Similar to the Zimbabwe study, we found that the Fútbol Para la Vida program significantly improves adolescents’ HIV-related knowledge and self-efficacy attitudes: key components to changing behavior and reducing risk of HIV infection. My advisors and I plan to publish this study in an academic journal during the spring.
If the model can successfully be brought across an ocean, across cultures, and across languages, GRS not only has potential to empower millions of youth, but also to set the bar for Sports for Development orgs around the world.
I never knew about Grassroot Soccer until I had the pleasure to see Zak's work in the Dominican Republic first-hand, and I must say, the Grassroot Soccer (Futbol Para la Vida) initiative there is truly remarkable. While GRS has its roots in South Africa, its mission is so applicable worldwide as it uses sport as a way of enabling and empowering young people as real "changemakers" in their communities. Particularly among Haitians and Dominicans in the DR, soccer is a universal language that can break down cultural barriers and unify these young people in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Grassroot Soccer has keened in on the powerful influence peer education through sport can make on young people. So often HIV/AIDS-based organizations are focused solely on education rather than avenues of behavior change, which leaves a gap between "knowing about HIV" and actually "putting into practice" the learned information. What is so interesting to me is how GRS has recognized and successfully incorporated the crucial role peer educators have as social models and in motivating positive, protective behavior change. And as Zak said before, a committment to research and evaluation is so important as behavior change programs continue to find new ways to bridge the gap from knowledge to practice.
Lastly, I just want to send my support for all of you who work so hard within the GRS organization, especially as you begin the World Cup 2010 campaign. You truly are "changemakers" in the world today!
Johns Hopkins University
I have never ceased to be impressed by the efforts and tangible impacts of Grassroot Soccer. This organization has managed to graduate thousands upon thousands of youth in an innovative way; it is independently verified, efficient, and an innovative way of combining the magic of futbol with the pressing need of HIV/AIDS education.
Here at Dartmouth, Lose the Shoes tournaments and other such events have galvanized a lot of people to the cause; the participants and supporters are an ocean away from where the curriculum is being instituted; however, they could not feel closer or more involved with its mission and purpose.
This is an organization that is changing the world through the power of soccer and education. I hope and pray that I can continue to be a part of that transformation in the years to come.
In November 2007, MercyCorps came out with an important evaluation of Grassroot Soccer outreach programs being implemented around Liberia and Sudan - a collaborative effort between MercyCorps, GRS, Nike, and several local partners. I strongly encourage checking it out, especially if you are interested in using Sports for Development as a means of HIV/AIDS prevention and education. MercyCorps delineates between "Sports-Plus" SfD programming and "Plus-Sport" programming. Understanding this distinction and the desired outcomes of SfD programs is central to this competition and could spark some important discussion. To quote the article:
"Sports-Plus" = Programming that involves young people in sport to learn new sports skills and/or improve health and social integration. Focus: sport-related outcomes
"Plus-Sport" = Programming that uses sport’s ability to bring together young people to achieve health and social outcomes (e.g. HIV/AIDS and conflict negotiation). Focus: non-sport-related outcomes.
The document goes on to evaluate the GRS model and finds (similar to the Zimbabwe study) that the programs significantly improve adolescents' HIV-related knowledge and attitudes.
The evaluation speaks volumes about the GRS curriculum, as a model "Plus-Sport" intervention. Truly, if we aim to use "sports for a better world," organizations need both successful SP programs and successful PS programs. One might argue that PS programs make greater overall contributions toward social change, while SP programs fuel the sports community within resource-limited settings, consequently, making PS programs more effective. Any thoughts on this topic?
Here's the link to the evaluation. Check it out.
Perhaps the coolest thing about GRS is that the organization is so results-driven, as evidenced by the rigorous monitoring and evaluation. If you look at sexual behavior change literature (particularly Daniel Halperin’s and Helen Epstein’s work on HIV prevention success in Uganda and other countries), you will notice that the GRS model is remarkably consistent with evidence-based elements of successful HIV prevention. Most notably, behavior change efforts in Uganda in the '90s (when HIV infections dropped immensely) did not only come from the top-down but also from the bottom-up (grassroots). As a result of what Epstein calls "Collective Efficacy," not only did individual behaviors change but so did society’s sexual norms – widespread partner reduction became the norm. Moreover, civil society became activated to fight against AIDS stigma and break barriers to the taboo surround HIV/AIDS.
This is exactly what GRS does: promote self-efficacy AND collective-efficacy. Not only does GRS use its evidence-based curriculum to promote abstinence, partner reduction, and consistent condom use, but also to increase social support, empower youth to share their knowledge with others, bring HIV prevention messages into the public via soccer games, and fight stigma and discrimination.
A few sources to check out if you’re interested in learning more about what went right in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
- The Invisible Cure, by Helen Epstein
- Green, Halperin, et al (2006). Uganda’s HIV Prevention Success: The Role of Sexual Behavior Change and the National Response. AIDS and Behavior,
- Halperin et al (2004). The time has come for common ground on preventing sexual transmission of HIV. The Lancet.
Good way of communicating through sport
Check out YouTube right now!
Current #1 featured movie:
Lusaka Sunrise - a 7-minute documentary of Grassroot Soccer in action in Lusaka, Zambia.
Lots of discussion going on now on youtube regarding Grassroot Soccer's use of soccer/football to fight AIDS. Check it out.
Dear Grassroots Soccer team
congratulations on being one of the three winners! All the best in your further pursuits.
Free University Berlin
Thank you for participating in this collaborative competition. We value the time and effort you’ve put forth and we would like to offer you feedback and some thought provoking questions from our Evaluation Team. Please use this input as both potential insights into your innovations, as well as constructive ideas for how to improve or grow your organization.
The innovative sports-based curriculum is empowering for the targeted age group, while the program has had a large impact since inception and significant potential for replicability. While the program is amply funded by a diverse base of private-sector organizations, there is some concern as to sustainability if private and NGO funding decreased.
The Changemakers Evaluation Team