We are proud to be part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, an initiative funded by PEPFAR, managed by JSI, working towards reducing the impact of HIV amongst young women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Our programme, along with over forty other organisations participating in the Innovation Challenge, seeks to ensure all young women are “DREAMS”: Determined – Resilient – Empowered – AIDS-free – Mentored and Safe.
Our approach is to work with young men directly, and young women indirectly, in the Mathare area of Nairobi, Kenya, with our partner organisation Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA). Through our specially designed interactive football sessions, the football coaches at MYSA inform their players of the importance of HIV testing and the benefits of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC). VMMC provides lifetime partial protection for men against HIV infection, reducing the risk of contracting the virus from HIV positive females through heterosexual intercourse by up to 60%. Our sessions provide a safe space to discuss sensitive issues such as condom use, HIV testing and VMMC, and then through MYSA and the Kenyan Ministry of Health, clinical services are provided free of charge to players and the wider community at football tournaments and outreach days.
Last weekend another football and sexual health tournament took place, at Mwiki field, in Nairobi and over the course of the weekend’s activities over 200 young people were counselled and tested for HIV, and found out their status, and 180 Voluntary Medical Male Circumcisions were performed, making this our most successful outreach to date.
On the pitch, we also watched some fantastic football, through the group stages and onto the semi-finals and final, where in a toughly fought battle Korogocho came out winners at 2-1 against a well- supported home side, Mwiki Youth. During the trophy presentation, we were also able to give out prizes for our under 10 players thanks to a huge donation of footballs from our partner Alive & Kicking.
We were also delighted to have some special guests in attendance, from our friends at Futbol Mas who use football to promote social change and cohesion, and our fellow DREAMS Innovation Challenge winners Athena Network. Athena has launched the LEARN project: Young Women Lead, Evidence, Advocate, Research, Network, informing and enhancing the roll out of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), medication available for people at high risk of contracting HIV, that helps prevent HIV infection.
After the final, the players and spectators came together for a wonderful trophy presentation and posed for a group photo. Thank you to MYSA, DREAMS Innovation Challenge, PEPFAR, JSI, the Ministry of Health and all our teams, guests and spectators who made this such a fantastic weekend of sport and sexual health.
For more information about how you can get involved with our work in Africa, or volunteer for us in the UK, please visit www.tackleafrica.org/get-involved