Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
The overall prevalence of HIV in Cameroon for all people nationwide is about 5% (Ministry of Public Health 2008). Girls aged 15-19 have a prevalence of 3.5%, girls aged 20-24 have a prevalence of 8.7% and girls aged 25-29 have a prevalence of 12%. 15-19 girls are seven times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS than boys of the same age-group, while the ratio drops to three times for youth in the age range of 20-24.
Girls are more likely than boys to be pulled out of school to care for their AIDS-stricken families. And once out of school, their vulnerability is compounded as they are cut-off from the life saving information and skills, and does not learn to fend for her self, economically or socially. Finally, should she be orphaned by HIV/AIDS, she is more likely to turn to “survival sex” i.e., trading sex for food, shelter and even education – to fend for herself.
Talking about such difficult topics as HIV/AIDS and sex with youth requires appropriate and attractive entry points. A key strategy is to help build up the capacity of girls to make them an interesting and engaging focus of a low HIV risk lifestyle using sports, particularly football, as a key element.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Football provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness among young girls and the community at large. During training, coaches will lead discussions about HIV/AIDS. During tournaments, banners, the opening/concluding remarks and half-time shows can all be used to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among the public.
Football can also improve the life skills of girls. It gives them a chance to be leaders, to improve their confidence and to increase their self-awareness. It strengthens their capacities in terms of decision-making, critical thinking, and negotiating their way out of difficult situations. Moreover, by providing them with space to bond with their female peers, it helps them develop teamwork skills, thereby coping better with their own emotions and resisting pressure from men.
Sport also has additional benefits. From the perspective of improving health, sport and physical activity provide young people with physical, social, and mental benefits, thereby improving productivity and psycho-social well-being. Sport provides a safe space for children and adolescents, and promotes healthy alternatives to drug, tobacco, and alcohol. Sport is a “school for life” and teaches children and youth such life lessons as the value of fair play, cooperation, teamwork, respect for self and others, and positive competition. Participation in school sport programs has been linked to higher percentages of children staying in school, and to increased learning retention rates. For out-of-school youth, whose copious amounts of free time tend to leave more vulnerable to high-risk activities, sport is a healthy diversion.
Thus, sport is both a means to achieve many of CADFIN’s core objectives, as well as an end in itself in ensuring every child’s right to play. And in a context where girls and women face heavy burdens in terms of household chores, sport also provides them with a rare opportunity to have fun.