Grassroot Soccer: Using the Power of Soccer in the Fight Against AIDS

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a winner.

Grassroot Soccer: Using the Power of Soccer in the Fight Against AIDS

Afrique du Sud
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

GRS combines the power of soccer with innovative educational activities, empowering a youth-led movement for a 100% stigma-free Africa and no new HIV infections.

About You
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea


Year the initative began (yyyy)


YouTube Upload

<br><object width="213" height="177"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="213" height="177"></embed></object>
<object width="213" height="177"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="213" height="177"></embed></object>

Project URL (include HTTP://)
Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Sport is trivialized

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Use sport to build character

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

Barrier: Stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS makes discussing it taboo
Principle: Using sports figures as role models to induce self-efficacy in others

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

GRS combines the power of soccer with innovative educational activities, empowering a youth-led movement for a 100% stigma-free Africa and no new HIV infections.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

<br>1. <b>Engagement of professional soccer players</b>- Behavior change is essential to disrupt Africa's devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic. Role models, experiential education, and community involvement are all cornerstones to behavior change (Social Learning Theory). Thus, GRS engages professional African soccer players as role models - delivering the curriculum in adolescent-targeted educational interventions. Following each intervention, students demonstrate their new knowledge in graduation ceremonies held during soccer matches. Graduates also receive a copy of "Extra Time," an HIV/AIDS workbook that doubles as a colorful, compelling soccer magazine.<br>
2. <b>Research and evaluation</b>- GRS prides itself on conducting thorough scientific evaluations that extensively study the impact of our programs. Moreover, GRS is the first organization to publish an academic article in the Sport for Development field.<br>
3. <b>Scale through sharing, networking, and consultation</b>- Rather than re-inventing GRS in different places as we expand, we provide training and technical assistance for local organizations and projects to help them adopt the GRS model effectively. We’ve provided these services in 11 countries throughout Africa and are expanding rapidly.

What are the existing barriers, the biggest problem, your innovation is hoping to address/change?

Of the 33 million people infected worldwide with HIV, 22.5 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. In three of GRS's locations (Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa), 600,000 people died of AIDS in 2005, nearly three million children live as AIDS orphans, and roughly one in five adults is infected with the virus. Today, one half of all new HIV infections occur among youth aged 15-24. Young Africans lack the knowledge and skills necessary to make responsible decisions that could save their lives.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

GRS trains educators (coaches, teachers, aid workers, professional soccer players, etc.) to deliver an innovative, sports-based curriculum that empowers youth with the knowledge, social support, and life skills they need to live HIV-free. Consisting of 16 sessions, including games, dramas, and other dynamic activities, the curriculum encourages open discussion on decision-making, stigma, and risk reduction.<br>
In Zimbabwe, GRS directly delivers the curriculum in public schools. In many other African countries - including South Africa, Zambia, Sudan, Liberia, Ethiopia, and Lesotho - GRS partners with NGOs to start successful programs by providing technical assistance through training, curriculum and project design, and systems for monitoring and evaluation. Some current partners include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in South Africa, Mercy Corps in Liberia/Sudan, and the International Organization of Migration in Botswana.

How do you plan to grow your innovation?

GRS has developed a model and methodology that is effective, replicable, and scalable. The greatest contribution that we make is providing HIV prevention training for existing agencies/organizations, while facilitating the design and management process. We plan to continue to expand our program by linking with like-minded organizations with capacity to help the project reach scale and remain sustainable. We anticipate that this will involve a combination of government agencies (particularly, Ministries of Education), community based organizations, corporate partners, and large NGOs.
<br>GRS has already proven its ability to do this effectively. The next step for GRS as an organization is to build its infrastructure, maximizing our capacity to continue to provide quality services at a larger scale, evaluate our interventions’ effectiveness, and develop innovative ways to use football as a tool for fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

Create a youth-led movement by arming African youth with the knowledge, social support, and life skills they need to make responsible decisions and live HIV-free.

What impact has your innovation had to date/or what is your intended impact? Exactly who are the beneficiaries?

GRS targets boys and girls from age 10-18 for its programs. Particular emphasis is placed on youth aged 12-14. Independent evaluation studies of the GRS program, conducted by the Children's Health Council and consultants from The Population Council and Harvard School of Public Health, have shown the GRS curriculum and model to be effective in increasing students' knowledge, attitudes, resiliency skills, and perceived social support related to HIV/AIDS. Moreover, an article published in the journal AIDS suggested that knowledge/attitude improvements among participants "diffuse" to their classmates who do not participate in the GRS curriculum. In fact, another study in Botswana found that GRS graduates, on average, share their new knowledge with 5-8 others after graduation. GRS not only uses powerful role models as instructors, but also trains youth to become role models in their own communities, thereby reaching an audience far wider with HIV prevention messages.

How many people have you served directly?

195,000 youth have graduated the program across Africa. Over 99,000 graduated in 2007. We aim to graduate 1 million youth by World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

How many people have you served indirectly?

Over 3 million people have been reached indirectly with GRS HIV prevention activities.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation?

In 2003, Stanford University's Children's Health Council independently evauated GRS in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Surveying 314 students, the CHC concluded: <br>
"Overall, the GRS Program is a culturally appropriate, internationally suitable, creative, and effective way to educate at-risk youth about HIV/AIDS and its prevention… Significant changes in students knowledge, attitudes and perceived social support are observed as a result of the program. These changes were sustained over 5 months."

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

The greatest barriers to Grassroot Soccer and all of us in the field of development through sport stem from the fact that sport-based education is still a relatively unproven concept. Until the developmental concepts are proven scientifically to have a significant impact, this emerging field stands the risk of being labeled unsuccessful. Proving the effectiveness of this concept is essential to obtaining buy-in from the institutional donors, government agencies, and policymakers of the world.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

In addition to funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GRS has received funding from a number of committed individuals and prestigious foundations and corporations including: Draper Richards Foundation, Thrive Foundation, The Byrne Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, De Beers, Barclays Bank, DaimlerChrysler, and Johnson & Johnson.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization.

<br>Annual Budget: $1,000,000

Annual Revenue: $1,000,000

Full Time Staff:
US citizens - 6
Africans - 9

Part Time Staff:
US citizens - 3
Africans - 15

Volunteer staff: 100-175 (volunteers, trainers, etc.)

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

The potential demand for GRS is enormous, given the global popularity of soccer and the daunting spread of HIV/AIDS. Most NGOs working on AIDS prevention in the developing world have the capacity to implement the GRS curriculum, as do Ministries of Education. Living up to the growing worldwide demand for evidence-based HIV prevention, GRS is constantly evaluating and improving its curriculum in order to remain at the cutting edge of international health interventions.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

Financial sustainability is always a problem for grassroots level educational programs. Programs such as ours often rely on grants, which are typically awarded for a fixed time period. For this reason, Grassroot Soccer’s ultimate goal is to develop models that can impact policy, such that the innovative concepts being developed at the grassroots level can be adopted permanently within government structures (e.g. public school systems). We havenoted the need and opportunity for self-sufficiency.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

Grassroot Soccer, Inc. became a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization in 2002. Founder Tommy Clark, MD, conceived of the idea after having played soccer professionally in Zimbabwe where he witnessed first hand both the devastation of HIV and the fanatical popularity of soccer. Together with a group of friends who had similar experiences, he and co-founders Methembe Ndlovu, Ethan Zohn and Kirk Friedrich created Grassroot Soccer. The core group traveled to Zimbabwe in 2002, and with the support of advisory board member Albert Bandura, consultants, and local stakeholders, developed and piloted an interactive, soccer-themed HIV prevention curriculum that was first implemented in Zimbabwe in 2003. After a positive independent evaluation of the project by The Children’s Health Council, a Stanford University affiliate group, GRS received a three-year program grant in 2005 from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its work. In 2007, following the successful design and implementation of the 2006 De Beers Pilot Project in the Northern Cape, GRS launched several community-based, football for development programs across South Africa. While the curriculum is currently implemented through partnerships in eight African countries, GRS focuses its own resources in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material.

Former All-American soccer player, Tommy Clark left the US to play professional soccer in Zimbabwe, where he witnessed first-hand both the power of soccer and the destruction of HIV. After completing medical school, he founded GRS. In addition to being named a Draper Richards Fellow, Tommy has received the Annie Dyson Child Advocacy Award for the resident nationwide who best furthers social causes and Dartmouth College's Martin Luther King Award for his contributions to social justice.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

We were strongly encouraged to apply by Dana Frasz at Ashoka. Our main incentive to participate is gaining exposure among those who can help GRS reach its full potential. We are constantly looking for partners in the private, public, and nonprofit sector, so we hope this competition will help us to become better known in the world of changemakers, sparking new opportunities for collaboration (particularly with companies and other effective nonprofits).

Affiliation (please list all that apply)

Dartmouth College (former All-American soccer player)
Dartmouth Medical School
Completed Pediatric Residency at University of New Mexico
Research Fellow - Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California at San Francisco
Draper Richards Fellow