Update on Charity Auction – Girls’ Soccer and HIV in Kwazulu-Natal

A few months ago, we at GirlsontheBall decided that we wanted to start raising money for a great cause. A few of you know, most of you don’t, that I work for the British Red Cross. In particular, I am involved in our HIV and TB project in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

A massive part of the programme in Kwazulu Natal is peer education. Our approach to changing attitudes and behaviour is tailored for young people and we use their peers to engage with them. We have found that young people are often far more open to engaging with potentially difficult issues, such as sexual health, if those issues are addressed in an enjoyable, informal and dynamic way.

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The South African Red Cross uses football as a way of educating children about HIV and life choices. Girls’ football is growing in South Africa. Since the beginning of Banyana Banayna, the national women’s team, in 1993, more and more girls have become involved in the game.

When I was there in October, the peer educators took me to see a match between the local Red Cross girls’ team and a local school. They were playing on a sandy, stony pitch and there weren’t enough boots to go around but they were incredibly good and enjoyed every minute of their time on the pitch.

When I returned to London, we held the auction which raised £600. With the match funding this was bumped up to a grand total of £900 that went to these peer education activities. In addition, Continental UK very kindly donated 30 footballs. Along with some pumps, the British Red Cross sent them over to South Africa, where they have been used and enjoyed ever since. There are currently six project sites in the region and these balls and pumps were split up evenly. Here is one example of how they have been used.

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The Newcastle branch has given their ladies team five footballs and a pump in order to improve the quality of their training sessions. They are training three times a week and currently compete in the Sasol League, the provincial women’s league in South Africa. The donation of the balls has increased their joy and motivation for the sport. In the coming weeks, the team will be visiting Kokstand, Pietermaritzburg and Vryheid to play their league games. This means that this year they will be travelling a lot since these towns a very far away from Newcastle (e.g. from Newcastle to Kokstand is about 600km for a single trip and Pietermaritzburg is about 300km for a single trip).

In addition, this donation has encouraged another Female Peer Educator to star two soccer teams for young boys. The teams are made up of local orphans and vulnerable children and play at under-15 and under-12 level.

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We just want to say massive thank you again to everyone who donated and to Continental UK for their support. None of this could have happened without your generosity.

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