Tanzania has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, with an estimated two out of five girls married before their 18th birthday. Child Marriage (CM) can be damaging in a number of ways. CM normally means the child bride drops out of school, and is so denied the right to an education and future opportunities. CM is associated with high rate of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), both of which are known contributors to the HIV epidemic. Child brides are often unable to negotiate condom use or refuse sex in their relationships, leaving them vulnerable to HIV. Husbands are often older than the child bride and so may bring HIV into the marriage from previous sexual relationships.
Our programme in Geita, in Tanzania’s north-west mining region, works with NELICO and Plan Tanzania, training football coaches to inform and educate young people about the risks of CM. One such coach on this innovative programme is Raphael Ngereja, who had been coaching youth teams in Katoro, Tanzania, for several years, both as a teacher and community coach, before joining TackleAfrica. Coaches like Raphael, who have teams and are seen as role models by the community, are ideally placed to be trained as TackleAfrica coaches and add Child Marriage messaging to their existing sessions. Raphael also became a TackleAfrica Project Officer last October, meaning on top of his TackleAfrica coaching sessions, he now supports 25 other local coaches to deliver CM messaging through football to their players.
TackleAfrica programmes use football for a variety of reasons. Young people love playing football, of course, so it’s a simple and enjoyable way to attract a captive audience. Football is also a spectator sport, and so at sessions and tourmaments, you’ll find lots of community members watching and listening to the messages. For coaches, most of them are existing football coaches with teams who want to improve and, naturally, win on the field! Our training courses aren’t just about sexual health issues – they offer high level football coaching from qualified trainers, making them highly-sought after by coaches always looking to improve their football skills.
Not only has Raphael been able to impart his CM knowledge gained through his Level 1 qualification, but the football training has meant he has also found continued success with his team. At a local NELICO event, Raphael led his team to victory at their first ever competitive tournament! As Raphael said, “Our captain Ally performed brilliantly during the tournament and claimed the top scorer prize with 5 goals.” This shows that TackleAfrica football coaching is not just educational, but can be transformative, and have on field success. This winning combination, led by coaches like Raphael, will ensure the legacy of TackleAfrica, Plan and NELICO’s work to end Child Marriage.
We are now registering teams and volunteers for our (in)famous football marathons. To get involved, please visit https://tackleafrica.org/football-marathons/football-marathon-faqs/