TackleAfrica uses the power and popularity of football to reach thousands of young people in Africa with sexual and reproductive health information. We know young people can be intimidated by clinics and hospitals, and so our weekly football sessions give young people a safe space to discuss and learn about sensitive issues, as well as access to youth-friendly services like HIV testing and condoms.
In Uganda, The Supporters’ Club funds a two year programme working with forty football coaches and their youth teams. The coaches are receiving ongoing TackleAfrica training and support to deliver specially designed football sessions, each with an in-built health message that unfolds through play. Hundreds of young players will attend these sessions every week to play football whilst gaining the knowledge, understanding and confidence to make safer and more informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
Young people get the chance to learn about sexual health on the pitch in an innovative way they enjoy, remember and understand – and through the weekly sessions they build a network of team-mates that can help them through the challenges they may face in their lives.
In the capital Kampala, our Supporters' Club football teams are mainly adolescent males, many from the Congolese refugee community who have difficulty accessing sexual health information and services. In rural Hoima district, we’re working with girls' teams, providing a safe place for them to discuss their sexual health, free from judgement.
HIV-related illness still kills more young people in Africa than anything else – and sexual health issues such as unplanned or early pregnancy is a major barrier to girls attending school and achieving their potential. Through this programme, the Supporters Club and TackleAfrica are providing an effective and innovative way to reach young people in communities where they often lack the opportunity to talk about such issues, or access services without fear of stigma.
At our coach training course in Kampala, coach Jeremiah (25), originally from DR Congo said:
“Many parents fear to talk to their children about sex, so football has a great power to talk to kids and pass the messages that are changing a lot in their communities.”