In December 2022, supported by funding from the Embassy of France in South Africa, Lesotho, and Malawi, we ventured into the scenic hills of Mulanje district in Blantyre, Malawi. Our mission was to organize an exciting all-girls football tournament that attracted local crowds eager to watch thrilling games and to help individuals gain access to vital sexual health and rights (SRHR) resources, such as HIV testing and contraceptives. This year in 2023, we are back in Malawi, fully committed to another round of SRHR football action, through a comprehensive five-month program funded once again by the Embassy of France in South Africa, Lesotho and Malawi.
We are delighted to introduce our transformative initiative, the Play 4 SRHR project, designed to provide essential support to young people in Malawi. In partnership with the local Umunthu Foundation, our journey began with an intensive week-long training program from July 17th to 21st, 2023. During this period, we successfully trained 20 coaches using a specialized football-based HIV and SRHR curriculum crafted by Tackle. Now, we are ready to launch the program in Mulanje district, Malawi, where HIV has a significant impact, with a prevalence of 7.8% among Adolescents and Young People (AYP). Additionally, the early pregnancy rate stands at 31.6%, according to the Malawi Demographic Health Survey (MDHS) 2015-16.
At the heart of our program are the AYP – young individuals who are key to shaping a brighter future, not only for themselves but also for their entire communities. With our initiative set to directly reach 200 AYP, our primary objective is to equip them with vital knowledge and life skills, helping them make informed decisions about their health and well-being, both now and in the future.
The 20 peer educators who received training, this week have already taken action, mobilizing, linking, and supporting their fellow AYP in accessing adolescent-responsive clinical and psychosocial support services. Our approach is firmly rooted in proven evidence that sports can be a powerful catalyst for positive change. By training peer educators to deliver peer-led HIV prevention and SRHR education sessions through football, we are fostering a generation of AYP armed with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to adopt health-seeking behaviours.
We are excited to follow the journey of Play 4 SRHR and invite you to join us in witnessing the impact it has on the coaches and young people involved in the program. Together, we are paving the way for increased access to SRHR education and resources, creating a healthier, more health-equitable future for the youth of Malawi.
Project: Play 4 SRHR