Work is underway on a brand new programme with our longstanding partner, Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in Nairobi. The programme aims to get young adolescent Nairobian men tested for HIV, but that’s not all. We are also implementing a highly innovative idea to provide pitchside VMMC – that’s Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision.
Male circumcision has been proven to be an effective strategy for reducing HIV infection rates, cutting the risk of HIV incidence by up to 60%. Yet only 50% of young Kenyan men aged 15-19 have been circumcised, and around 70% of those who have been, had the practice carried out by a traditional healer rather than a qualified medical practitioner. Our new programme will use our specially designed football drills to educate young men on the benefits of VMMC, and provide the service in a safe, medically controlled, but youth-friendly setting, with full care and follow up.
To run this programme, we’re delighted to welcome on board Othman Mezouar, born and raised in Morocco but living in Canada for the last ten years where he was most recently working for Montreal Impact Soccer Schools as a coach. Othman tells us what his first week in Kenya has been like!
TackleAfrica: Othman, welcome on board. How does it feel to be here in Kenya? Has anything surprised you?
Othman Mezouar: As an African native, it is both exciting and pleasant to come back to Africa and discover this part of the continent. I have been surprised by the dynamism of Nairobi city and the IT development such as the M-Pesa (phone-based banking) application.
TA: What are your hopes for the programme you’ll be running?
OM: My hopes are that as many people as possible get tested and counselled for HIV and get circumcised so we can avoid HIV transmission in the community. It’s a little but an important step to eliminate HIV.
TA: What has been the most fun thing of your first week and why?
OM: Taking a matatu (the public buses) has definitely been the most fun thing of my first week because it’s enjoyable to get inside a colourful bus with entertaining music inside. It is also funny to see how the co-pilot communicates with the driver to tell him to stop or to go.
TA: What are you most looking forward to doing while in Kenya?
OM: While in Kenya, I’m looking forward to contributing to the realization of our new Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme (VMMC) and see what results we will get, but also, to meet different Kenyan communities and learn more about them. A small safari on the road will not be of refusal!
We look forward to updates on the VMMC programme, and to hearing more from Othman as his Kenya journey unfolds.
If you are a coach interested in our programmes in Africa, please visit www.tackleafrica.org/get-involved for more details.