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Monday 31 December 2012

Premier League projects taking fight to HIV

Find out how two Premier League-funded projects are changing people's lives in Africa

  • Yolanda Sandi came through the World Film Collective/Grassroots Soccer programme

  • The TackleAfrica project reaches around 15,000 people per year

  • Astgon Villa stars Eric Lichaj, Ciaran Clark and Fabian give their support to World Aids Day

The 25th World AIDS Day takes place on December 1, aiming to raise awareness and education of the fight against the HIV virus around the world.

Speeches, campaigns, forums and fundraising events will take place on Saturday in an attempt to eradicate prejudice and stigma for a virus that is estimated to be carried by 34 million people globally.

"The Premier League money was really important and  was a big part of getting to where we are"
Charlie Gamble

Over the past few years, the Premier League has backed a number of projects that tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS courtesy of the International Small Grants Fund (ISGF), which supports charities and non-profit organisations deliver crucial sport for development work around the globe.

Over 25 programmes have been given financial support by the ISGF, many of which have used the funding to set up football projects that tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS. Programmes run by organisations such as Kick4Life in Lesotho and Right To Play in Tanzania are having an enormous impact.

Below, takes a look at two other projects that are helping to change the lives of people in Africa.

The Premier League's clubs and its commercial partners have also been giving their support, such as at Aston Villa where Darren Bent and Gary Gardner have backed "Saving Lives", a Birmingham-based national HIV awareness charity, by joining other sports stars in appearing on advertising posters on buses in the city. And Villa stars Ciaran Clark, Fabian Delph and Eric Lichaj encouraged people this week to get tested for HIV as part of England’s first National HIV Testing Week.


In 2009, the Premier League donated £11,500 to TackleAfrica, a project that uses football to teach youngsters about HIV and sexual health. The aim is to give them the confidence to address the issues and give them the knowledge about how to avoid getting the virus and what to do if they have it.

The information is passed on through integrated football coaching and drills, with Tackle Africa utilising a "training the trainer" model, where they teach African coaches, schoolteachers and youth leaders to lead the coaching and to coach others so that the initiatives do not need to depend on the organisation on a long-term basis.

Tackle Africa work in five countries: Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, with 326 coaches in the training programme and about 15,000 people reached each year.

The grant from the Premier League's ISGF funded the employment of coach Ndunda Mukonyo, who works with the Mathare Youth Sports Association in a slum in eastern Nairobi and who became TackleAfrica’s first African Project Officer. That initial funding has generated significant momentum and the Mathare Youth Sports Association is now preparing to roll out training to 1200 coaches.

TackleAfrica chief executive officer Charlie Gamble:

"We would go as far as to say that HIV/AIDS is the single biggest social issue in Africa. We are trying to create young people who have the confidence, knowledge and life skills to be able to make better choices around their sexual health more often. That’s the outcome we are looking for.

"You can't walk 100 yards in Africa without being hit by a football. It's impossible. There are kids playing football on every patch of ground you can imagine. Some may not be academic, they may not be going to school - they don't like that environment - but they thrive on the pitch because that is what they are passionate about. So we very quickly realised that using a coach to be the focal point is a great way to get the message across.

"The money from the Premier League was really important and it was a big part of getting to where we are now. It funded Ndunda’s salary for a year and some associated programme costs in Kenya. It has really snowballed for us.

"It was our first staff member on the ground in Africa and having someone who is there permanently, who can support local coaches, not just conducting a training course for a fortnight and then disappearing for six months makes a big difference. We can see the cascade effect two years on."

World Film Collective/Grassroot Soccer

This year the Premier League gave a grant to a World Film Collective and Grassroot Soccer project working with young people in the Khayelitsha township of Cape Town, South Africa, to train them to produce and edit films on the subject of HIV/AIDS using their mobile phones.

The youngsters who were accepted on the nine-week course had very little computer experience and the improvement in their skills was dramatic. At the beginning, 17 of the 20 students had not turned on a computer, but the 18 who graduated had learnt how to use complicated editing software.

"It has been life changing for the young people involved"
Alice Bragg

Not only have the students gained transferable skills such as interviewing, marketing, meeting deadlines and storytelling, but the films are being distributed via social media and networks to spread the message to a wider audience.

The legacy of the scheme has carried on beyond the project, with the production team, known as Kaltcha Pioneers, being commissioned to produce a daily five-minute film every day in November all the way to World Aids Day for Cape Town Television, which has an audience of around 1.5 million in primetime.

The videos cover a variety of subjects and include acting groups, poets and discussion groups to get the message of awareness and prevention across.

World Film Collective chief executive Alice Bragg:

"The idea is to use cell-phone technology and social media to bring very marginalised young people into the media. Two of the most popular things in these communities are football and social media and to put those two things together is really explosive and really powerful.

"It has been life changing for the young people involved and what they learn in such a short space of time has a big impact on them.

"There's evidence to say that young people talking to young people is the most powerful way of communicating messages and the Kaltcha Pioneers are trying to build up audiences and also interactivity so that the young people in the community and around start to talk about HIV prevention and the messages that are contained within the films.

"It's amazing what the Premier League is doing with young people. The role it has taken on in terms of nurturing young people and using football for good and for the development of future generations in this country and other countries is marvellous.

"Working with youth and preparing them to take over the future is one of the most important things we can do and the Premier League is doing it really well."

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Key Points

  • The 25th World Aids Day takes place on 1st December
  • Premier League funded projects are helping projects that are tackling HIV/AIDS
  • We hear from the World Film Collective and TackleAfrica