Today, for International Day of the Girl Child, we celebrate the many girls and young women across all our partners and programmes working in the fight against HIV and towards better sexual and reproductive health and rights for all! Football is often seen as a men’s sport, but we’re proud to be part of the global movement that sees more girls than ever playing football and, through our programmes in Africa, learning how to reduce the impact of HIV in their communities.
First, we caught up with two of our newest TackleAfricans, from the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) programme in Zambia, to get their thoughts on the football drills, and whether it’s useful for girls to learn through football this way.
Natasha told us, “We need more of this type of training! Our coach is really cool and understanding, so we want more sessions on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. We want to learn more about these issues.” Her programme colleague and fellow player Grace Mwila agrees, seen below with her team. Grace also highlighted the wider impact of her sessions: “My favourite session was Shoot those STIs as it taught me how to protect myself against them. These sessions have taught me many things I did not know before; I knew very little about STIs. I can now teach other girls in the community about the benefits of TackleAfrica sessions.”
From the newest to the oldest (and wisest?)… turning to Kenya we urge you to check out the work of two of our longest-standing TackleAfrica partners. Moving the Goalposts Kilifi, on the Kenyan coast, has for decades fought for young women’s right to play football as well as access healthcare and education. Their team, MTG United, recently won the Global Goals World Cup 2017 in New York. Their TackleAfrica programme uses football to inform mothers how to prevent passing on HIV to their babies, as well as preventing unintended pregnancies. Today they said “We believe in the power of girls to change their own lives and create their own future. International Day of the Girl is also about celebrating girls who have changed the world when given a chance. Today we celebrate our girls who have managed to shine despite everything that keeps them down.”
Mathare Youth Sports Association in Nairobi, currently running a TackleAfrica programme that seeks to reduce HIV amongst young women said “sports has increased self-esteem and promoted leadership among thousands of girls participating in our sports4dev activities.” And to the young women across all their programmes, “we believe in you; you have the power to transform communities, touch lives positively and inspire more girls to be leaders in our nation. You are our heroes.”
Happy International Day of the Girl Child, wherever you are!
Are you a coach who wants to get involved in our programmes in Africa? Visit www.tackleafrica.org/get-involved for details.