by Frances Esguerra
Global health nonprofit TackleAfrica recently celebrated a milestone of having conducted 10,000 HIV tests across all of their football programs in eleven African countries. Young people and their communities have been able to access this crucial service voluntarily 10,000 times since its founders decided to introduce free and confidential HIV testing at the charity’s football sessions and tournaments in 2015.
In 2007, TackleAfrica developed a unique way of combining HIV education directly into football coaching drills and now trains African football coaches, games teachers and community leaders in using these fun, interactive drills for young people in their football clubs and communities. The charity has grown to work regularly with local partners in six African countries to reach over 20,000 young people each year.
Founded in May 2002 by a group of young people from the UK, TackleAfrica’s programs focused on HIV education, but now their coaches are trained to deliver information and services on a wide range of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights issues to help end the HIV epidemic, including contraception, family-planning, Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage and girls’ empowerment.
Why We Like It:
TackleAfrica uses football as a means of bringing people together and a platform from which to convey crucial messages about HIV and AIDS. The charity’s decision to introduce free and confidential HIV testing and counseling at its football tournaments has helped over 20,000 young people yearly since 2015. For many TackleAfrica players, the charity’s football tournaments are the first time they get tested.
Its football programs creates an environment that minimizes the fear of walking into a clinic and being seen by a doctor in a white coat. With youth-friendly, casually-dressed counselors and test administrators that were trained and approved by the Ministry of Health, young people can feel as comfortable as possible being tested without judgment or prejudice. Oftentimes teammates would test at the same time, making it easier to take that first step into what can be a terrifying moment.
TackleAfrica recognized the potential of football and used its popularity to better lives across an entire continent.