From training football coaches in war-affected regions of Sri Lanka to helping disabled youngsters on Merseyside build cultural links with children in Shanghai, the Premier League’s International Small Grants Fund (ISGF) supports charities and non-profit organisations at home and abroad.
More than 20 diverse initiatives have been backed by the fund, which is helping to make a positive impact on lives all over the world.
Steve Fleming is the co-chief executive of charity Kick4Life. Here he explains how his organisation has helped young people living with HIV in Lesotho thanks to a £12,000 grant from the ISGF.
“Kick4Life uses the unifying and inspiring potential of football and sport to transform the lives of some of the most disadvantaged boys and girls in the world.
“We work with young people in Lesotho, which has the third highest prevalence of HIV in the world.
“One of the biggest factors in the spread of HIV in this country is that young people don’t want to know whether they are infected. Sadly, discrimination and stigma surround the disease, so people are reluctant to have themselves tested.
“Our Test Your Team campaign uses football as a tool to challenge those perceptions and create an atmosphere of positive peer pressure so that young people feel comfortable about having an HIV test.
“We organise large football tournaments which are accompanied by education activities and the test itself.
“All the participants receive pre and post-test counselling, and anybody who tests positive is immediately referred onto ongoing treatment and receives support. Importantly, the events also seek to break down discrimination, giving those living with HIV a better quality of life.
“Trying to encourage a 14-year-old boy to walk into to a clinic for an HIV test in Lesotho is extremely difficult. But by staging these tournaments where everyone’s having fun, playing football, singing and dancing, our trained coaches are able to challenge the stigma attached to HIV and make the participants actively want to have a test because they know it’s the right thing to do.
“The funding we received from the Premier League has been spent on running three events, which enabled us to test 1,500 people aged between 13 and 18. Through that process, 67 young people in Lesotho are now on treatment and will live a longer life, with a much a better quality of life, so the money has been put to fantastic use.
“The International Small Grants Fund shows the Premier League is taking its responsibilities seriously. English football is incredibly popular in Lesotho, and the fact this financial support is made available demonstrates the League’s commitment to supporting its global community.”