Using Soccer to Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness Using Soccer to Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness

Using Soccer to Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness

by Nikhil Swaminathan

June 17, 2010
Children in South Africa can thank the World Cup for a six-week vacation from school. But, that doesn't mean all learning has gone out the window. The development organization Grassroot Soccer is taking advantage of the hoopla surrounding the event as a teachable moment, showing kids how to prevent the acquisition of HIV/AIDS through the so-called "beautiful game."

Combining the efforts of current and former soccer players and coaches with those of public health workers—as well as former Survivor: Africa winner Ethan Zohn—Grassroot Soccer creates soccer-related games and drills that teach children about the dangers of engaging in unsafe sexual practices. (South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, with 5.7 million of its 49 million citizens infected.)

Zohn told USA Today

Our goal is to educate as many kids as possible and to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in South Africa using soccer as the entry point. ... It's still a little bit taboo in South Africa, a little stigmatized. By combining something really cool, like soccer and the World Cup, with HIV/AIDS, we're able to break down those barriers.

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Using Soccer to Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness