Grassroot Soccer collaborates with leading thinkers in the world of girl’s empowerment and sport for development in order to ensure we continue to develop the best programs possible. Grassroot Soccer is also encouraging our current partners, including the English Premier League, to support this initiative.
Grassroot Soccer has launched the Red Card Campaign in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Health and Education South Africa, Matchboxology (Scrutinize), and Sonke Gender Justice. This will include national print and TV messaging which will reinforce the lessons learned at the grassroots level – Skillz Street.
The Generation Skillz intervention (core to Skillz Street) has been designed in accordance with the World Heath Organization’s criteria for scalable school-based interventions (WHO 2006) as well as the “17 Characteristics of Effective HIV and Sex Education Programmes,” developed through systematic review of 83 studies of adolescent-targeted programs (Kirby et al. 2007).
Grassroot Soccer piloted Skillz Street in Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Cape Town. with 150 grade seven female learners in each of the three pilot sites.
In collaboration with Salesforce.com, GRS has developed a state-of-the-art online monitoring and evaluation system.
More than 10 independent evaluation studies of GRS programs, conducted by researchers at the Children's Health Council, Harvard School of Public Health and other universities, have shown the GRS model to be effective in increasing students' knowledge, attitudes, resiliency skills, and communication related to HIV/AIDS. A 2006 study in Botswana found that GRS graduates, on average, share their knowledge with 5-8 others after graduation. GRS not only uses powerful role models as instructors, but also trains youth to become role models in their own communities, thereby reaching an audience far wider with HIV prevention messages.
A 2008 behavioral survey found that 2-5 years after the intervention, GRS graduates in Zimbabwe were nearly six-times less likely than their matched peers to report early sexual debut, four-times less likely to report sexual activity in the last year, and eight-times less likely to report ever having had more than one sexual partner.
We are currently in the process of reviewing the data from the Skillz Street Pilot programs.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
GRS is committed to scaling up the intervention throughout South Africa. Over the next year, we intend to conduct Skillz Street leagues in five sites, including Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Soweto, Bloemfontein, and KwaZulu‐Natal, reaching a total of 3,000 girls. Skillz Street will be led by 70 GRS Skillz Coaches, trained to deliver the intervention with young women.
At the end of year one we plan to integrate the HIV testing component more deeply into Skillz Street. Integrated Testing Using the power of football as a tool to bring youth together, and working closely with trusted testing, care, and treatment partners (such as MSF, New Start, and local Ministries of Health), GRS has found tremendous success in implementing HIV Counseling and Testing tournaments, which increase awareness about HIV testing and treatment services and empower South African youth to know their status. In the last year, GRS has had increasing success in integrating HCT services into our existing program delivery models in South Africa, and by incorporating these services into the growing Skillz Street model, we are confident that the power of extended interaction with strong community role models and education around HIV testing will provide a safe space for youth to learn their status through HCT opportunities integrated into the program. Based on participation in testing within existing GRS South Africa programs, we will aim for 70% of Skillz Street participants, or 2,100 girls, to undergo testing during the year‐long program.
Grassroot soccer must establish and maintain partnerships with like-minded organizations, corporations, and foundations to increase investment in girls programming.
Grassroot soccer must continue to develop strong partnerships and links with the South African government (Department of Education, Department of Health) to ensure sustainability. Because Grassroot Soccer currently operates programs in over twenty different sites across South Africa, local and national governmental support is essential. Over three years we will look to expand Skillz Street to every site.
Grassroot soccer must continue to enhance local community ownership, by holding community events and effectively training local role models to lead Skillz interventions.Grassroot Soccer must continue to adapt our curriculum based on feedback from youth and Coaches.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
2010 is a great time to launch a football based initiative. The worry is that partners will lose interest once the World Cup leaves South Africa.
Gender stereotypes present a major hurdle that must be overcome in this project. Young women face pressures that keep them from entering the program.
Lack of community engagement and commitment could prevent the program from becoming sustainable.
We are in the process of reviewing the data from the pilot programs. Failure to learn from the results could prevent the program from being a success.
Failure to develop and maintain strong partnership will also prevent the program from being a success.