This week to Tanzania, where we recently completed our first two training courses looking exclusively at stopping Child Marriage. We were overwhelmed with the commitment and dedication of these new coaches, and we’re grateful for our collaboration with Plan Tanzania and the funding from NORAD which means there are now thirty coach educators using football to speak to their communities about the harm child marriage does.
A group of new coaches during our first ever Child Marriage training course
Two week-long training courses took place in late January and early February this year, one in Ifakara district and the other in Nkasi district, both in Tanzania. You can be forgiven for not knowing these places; indeed both areas are so remote that some coaches travelled up to 100km to attend our training to learn how to address the issue of Child Marriage in their communities.
We are now incorporating Child Marriage into our curricula because of its close links with HIV infection and poor sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly for girls. According to Plan International, 15 million girls marry before the age of 18 each year – that’s the equivalent of one every two seconds. They estimate that more than 140 million girls will become child brides by 2020 if we don’t act now. As Plan explains, “early pregnancy is one of the most dangerous causes and consequences of child marriage. Girls married early are more likely to experience violence, abuse and forced sexual relations. They are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).”
Coaches learning a new drill
Girls who are married early often drop out of school and are denied the right to an education. Education is essential for girls to be able to make informed decisions about their sexual health and well-being, and child marriage prevents this. It was therefore difficult to ignore the role of Child Marriage in the HIV story, and we’re happy to have a new set of football sessions for coaches to use to help them address the issue. Plan’s graphic below shows that educating communities and families about child rights and sexual and reproductive health can help stop Child Marriage.
Ibrahim Kasatila, the TackleAfrica Project Officer for the Nkasi cohort and also a PLAN volunteer told us, “TackleAfrica is great, it brings people together to learn new important Child Marriage information and at the same time allows people to have fun and learn new football skills. It is very important that people learn more about Child Marriage and the damaging effects it has on those involved.”
Ibrahim shows off our banner!
Jed Haney, the facilitator on the courses said “these were among the best courses I have done. Participants were so engaged and couldn’t wait to help make a difference in their respective communities.”
And finally, what better way to show coach commitment to a course? Coaches got together and wrote a song about the harmful effects of Child Marriage. Here they sing to their communities in Swahili, asking them to reject traditional practices that are harming their children, and hoping for an end to the issue. With our new programme, we’re joining in their song.