“Today many young men think by having multiple girlfriends they are showing off their muscle and that they can get any girl they want because they have the vibe and they are real men. Well sorry for disappointing you guys, real men are the ones that are faithful to their partner and protect her against HIV. Be a real guy like me and protect your girlfriend.”
Those are the words of a seventeen year old TackleAfrica player from Lusaka, Zambia. Read on for an extraordinary interview with an extraordinary young man.
TA: Michael, tell us about your family?
MM: I am second born from four children and I live in Chaisa compound with my family here in Lusaka.
TA: What is your favourite TackleAfrica drill?
MM: I wouldn’t lie they are so many good and interesting drills that I like but the most outstanding is Run For It Again. I just love that drill! It talks about that importance of using the condom correctly and consist prevent against STIs and HIV. The game shows us how easy it is for someone to catch HIV when he/she has an STI and they are not using condoms. Funny enough, two weeks before I was taken through the same game, my mates and I were talking about real men and that they don’t use condoms because they fear nothing. But after I did run for it again, it opened my eyes to see the real thing. Because of that drill, my mates and I will never have unprotected sex because we now know the truth.
TA: When did you first participate in a TackleAfrica session?
MM: In 2012 with coach Edson and I was only 11 years old and my level of understanding wasn’t up to date. And at that time there were certain drills that we were not allowed to do because the coach said they were not suitable for us. We had a short break and I recall in 2015 that is when we started doing drills again with coaches Trastine and Dorcus.
TA: What changes have you seen yourself go through?
MM: Before TackleAfrica sessions, I wanted to go for VCT and I didn’t like the idea of people talking about it. To be honest, before TackleAfrica drills I had never gone for VCT but since 2015, I have gone six times because I now know that it’s important for someone to know their status and live healthy. Or you need to get medication if found positive as soon as possible to avoid the immune system being weakened and allowing illness that can make one die. Due to the drills I now know and understand that if you go VCT, it doesn’t mean you have been having unprotected sex – that had been my understanding thus the fear to go and test, and also not being ready for the results.
TA: Do you have any other change that you feel like talking about?
MM: Yes, the importance of condom use. When it comes to HIV and AIDS they are no real men out there because AIDS is real. It doesn’t choose or select, any one that goes on to have unprotected sex with a girl that he doesn’t know her status is at a higher risk of catching HIV. The coach talked so much on ABC which is Abstinence, Being faithful and use a Condom. For me now I avoid multiple partners and only be faithful to one and using a condom correctly. I respect her decisions in the relationship such as to have or not to have sex to mention but a few.
TA: Do you have anything else to tell us?
MM: Yes, to all my fellow players: whatever we learn about from our coaches, let us take it serious and act upon it to bring change in our community. Let’s not sit on it, because AIDS is real and we are lucky that we have coaches that have been trained by TackleAfrica and they are very knowledgeable on a lot of HIV information. For me, every time I learn about a new thing about HIV I talk about it and allow people to ask questions. If I don’t know I take note and ask my coach to help. I start with my family first and then my girlfriend and my friends and any other person I feel free to talk to. Change starts with you and others learn from you. I am very lucky and I hope to be a TackleAfrica coach one day to help my country and community at large.”
If you want to be involved with projects that work with inspiring young men like Martin, visit www.tackleafrica.org/get-involved