Tom with local children
Tackling Aids with the power of football
Greenwich resident Tom Colborne, 28, is a volunteer with a charity based in London that uses football to teach young people in Africa about HIV/Aids. Here, he writes and presents a slideshow documenting his latest trip to Uganda.
By Tom Colborne
TackleAfrica is a small charity, run largely by London volunteers, that uses football to reach young people affected by HIV in Africa.
Here you can see a photo and video slideshow from my recent visit to Uganda in January 2009. Over two weeks, we trained 55 coaches, schoolteachers and peer educators working with over 6,000 young people in two locations – Kamwokya, a slum area of Kampala, and Ssi, a rural district near Lake Victoria.
Click below to launch the slideshow:
I became involved in 2005 as a volunteer when I used my experience as a charity fundraiser to organise an annual London-based event – the Football Marathon, where teams of players are sponsored to play football for 12 hours in a tournament on Clapham Common.
In January 2007, another volunteer, Charlie Gamble, contacted me asking for help with a project in Uganda based on an idea he'd developed with TackleAfrica.
Previously, TackleAfrica had used football tours and tournaments to attract large numbers of people and, afterwards they would distribute condoms and educational material to fans and players.
Charlie's idea was to take education on to the pitch and use FA-qualified football coaches to deliver specially designed drills which both improve football skills and encourage behaviour to stay safe from HIV.
One drill might use a football to represent a condom with the coach playing the role of the virus, tagging players who enter a marked 'risky' area of the pitch without control of the ball.
In another, defenders would represent white blood cells, protecting the goal or human body from the attacking opportunistic infections – but when the body contracted HIV the defending blood cells were removed one by one until the infections took over.
author Tom Colborne
Not only were the young players enjoying and understanding the drills, they were beginning to have frank and honest group conversations based on what we were learning: "Coach, is it possible to catch HIV from swapping shirts with someone that's infected?"
Some of them even began to develop their own educational drills.
I have become a Trustee of TackleAfrica, and the charity has grown to work with local NGO partners in 5 more African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia and South Africa), training African coaches to deliver the HIV/football drills with our funding and support.
The football marathon has grown too, raising £70,000 last year and allowing us to build towards a multiple-partner project in South Africa for the 2010 world cup.
last updated: 27/02/2009 at 16:17
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