The 2014 Alive & Kicking Zambia Roadshow visited four locations in Lusaka Province, with the aim of raising awareness of HIV among young people through sport. Building on the success of previous years, the project also provided them with the chance to participate in organised sport and to receive ongoing HIV education.
Zambia has the seventh highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. An estimated 13% of 15-49 year olds, or more than one in seven adults, live with HIV. Lusaka Province has the highest infection rate in Zambia, estimated at 21%. Improvements in care and treatment are necessary, but substantial improvements in HIV awareness and education, particularly among young people, in Zambia is crucial in the fight against HIV.
The targeted outcomes of the Roadshow were to:
The objectives of the Roadshow were met by fulfilling five activities in each location:
The Roadshow visited the towns of Kafue and Chongwe and the Chipata and Munali districts of Lusaka
Bringing together expertise from a number of grassroots organisation, the Roadshow adopted a holistic and inclusive approach to sports-based HIV education. Alive & Kicking coordinated support from TackleAfrica, Sport in Action, Society for Family Health and Planning (New Start) and ZANERELA – a group of religious leaders with HIV that provides information and advice on living with HIV- all of whom are experts in their field. Sport in Action’s local knowledge and network of community leaders was invaluable in identifying and reaching out to the recipient coaches and teams. TackleAfrica’s curriculum was taught in each location, while New Start and ZANERELA provided support in terms of HIV counselling, testing and creating space for productive discussions.
HIV education training was provided by Matthew Wolfe, Coach Development Officer at TackleAfrica, who specialises in delivering HIV education through football coaching drills. Local coaches were identified in each location and trained as HIV educators. By training locally based coaches, this approach ensures that young people can be provided with continuous HIV related football coaching going forward.
The coaches are often strong community leaders who use their position to engage their players in positive social action. The integration of football with HIV education is an incredibly valuable and appreciated skill. As a coach from Chongwe noted, “In the past we used to teach separately but with integration it’s even more interesting and fun to interact with my team when giving them health talks.”
The training course incorporated classroom- and pitch-based sessions. It is crucial that the coaches fully understand the information that the football drills help them deliver. Their HIV knowledge was tested before and after the training course, with the average questionnaire score increasing from 52% to 80%. A noticeable improvement in their general understanding of wider health issues and an eagerness to engage were also reported. The increased understanding will allow the coaches to deliver the coaching sessions with confidence and talk openly about HIV within their communities.
Mwape Lillian Chibuye noted what the training can do in Chipata Compound:
“There are still many people who don’t understand about HIV. Delivering these sessions will be an eye opener to the community. It will remove ignorance. There are still a lot of false ideas moving around. Delivering sessions in the community can help to bring more truth.”
During the four weeks of the Roadshow, 78 local teachers and coaches were trained in sports based HIV educational techniques. These coaches regularly work with a total of 5,822 children (3,633 boys, 2,189 girls), who are now able to receive HIV education throughout the year as part of their weekly training. Incorporating HIV education into their regular routine and into an enjoyable environment gives the health messages the best chance of being thoroughly understood. This approach empowers local people to tackle their community’s most pressing social issue and ensures the Roadshow continues having an impact over the long term.
After the completion of each training course, the newly trained coaches were given the opportunity to demonstrate the training drills with their own teams, in their own communities. Under supervision from the facilitator, the coaches were able to develop their confidence to deliver high quality sessions. The sessions taught young people how HIV works, how it can be avoided, where to get tested and what to do if they contract the virus. Working with their regular coach ensured messages were delivered in a relaxed environment, allowing people to talk openly and honestly and gain a better understanding of HIV issues.
Across the four locations, 36 HIV educational football sessions were observed by the facilitator being delivered by the newly trained coaches to 535 young people. Some of the coaches worked with netball teams and showed great creativity by delivering their HIV sessions through a different sport. Many more witnessed the sessions and took part in open discussions regarding issues facing the local community.
Each week of HIV education training and activities was followed by a community tournament, allowing local teams to take part in competitive football and netball fixtures. The teams were largely made up from the newly trained coaches own groups, providing an excellent way to begin their engagement with sports-based HIV education.
The football and netball tournaments were run alongside each other, creating a vibrant atmosphere and a ensuring they were seen as major community events.
Across the four tournaments, a total of 57 teams and nearly 1,000 players took part. The games were played in a healthily competitive spirit, with the winners’ trophies being highly coveted. The age groups of participating players varied in each location, but were most commonly targeted at under-17 categories. This meant that the participating players were within the targeted age range of the VCT providers and could get tested themselves.
Due to the availability of local teams in Munali, a girls’ football tournament was played instead of netball. This attracted a lot of attention and was welcomed by the coaches as it allowed girls to participate in greater numbers, which can often be a challenge.
“Girls’ football isn’t as vast as boys’ football because parents don’t always allow their girl child to participate in sport. The tournament was good and productive because there were a good number of female teams which we don’t normally have in community tournaments… From the girls’ and my point of view, the tournament was a great success”
Newton Mutale, Munali SIA girls’ team coach
Every tournament generated great excitement within the local communities, with hundreds of spectators enjoying the sport and community occasion. The positive atmosphere was encouraged with music – often leading to impromptu dancing circles and other sideshow activities. Food and drink was provided for the participants, with local businesses also doing well in meeting the needs of the crowd.
The winners and runners-up in each tournament received trophies, while all competing teams were donated three Alive & Kicking balls, printed with health messages, to assist with their ongoing training and encourage participation in future community events.
One of the most important aspects of the tournaments was giving the local community a chance to learn and talk about HIV, get tested and discover their HIV status. Access to such services is crucial in the continued fight against HIV. Providing VCT in a place with a high proportion of young, sexually active people was very effective in ensuring this high-risk group received vital information about sexual health and HIV and has easy access to VCT services. VCT was provided by our local partners NEWSTART.
“Most of the clients seen were between the ages of 16 and 18 years. This is good for Newstart as this age group falls within the range of clients that we target who are sexually active and need a lot of sex education information. It is good that this service was taken to the youths and community as people rarely have these services nearby and rarely start off on their own to go for such services as VCT. On top of this, games and football tournaments are great crowd pullers and a good way of doing community mobilization.”
Priscilla Phiri, NEWSTART Team Leader
To ensure that as many people as possible were tested a number of strategies were put in place:
A central message of the weekly coach education courses was the importance of knowing your HIV status. As such, the coaches were actively involved on tournament days in encouraging people in the community to get tested. Many led by example and were tested themselves, while others led discussions and helped the VCT providers to get people involved.
The coach education courses were aimed at providing communities with long-term access to HIV education; by engaging so whole-heartedly at the first opportunity, the coaches demonstrated why they are going to be a valuable asset to the community going forward.
In the days preceding the tournament, the Alive & Kicking “football-mobile” would tour the local areas playing music and garnering excitement about the tournaments over the mobile PA system. The vehicle and music attracted lots of attention; local children often took the chance to show off their dancing skills to the latest Zambian hits. The Alive & Kicking team used this as a chance to talk about the upcoming tournament and the importance of knowing their HIV status. The team was accompanied by local coaches who would speak in the local language(s). It proved to be a great way to attract attention to the upcoming tournament and to create a positive atmosphere around an important community event.
ZANERELA (The Zambian Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV and AIDS) provided a tremendous amount of support for the Alive & Kicking team over the course of the four tournament days. As a group that talks openly about HIV, the ZANERELA team were crucial in passing on information to the local community, talking to every person at the tournaments and giving out leaflets and magazines. ZANERELA were able to encourage people to get tested as well as communicate openly with others who were either unwilling to get tested or unable to because of their age. Even if people were not tested, they were receiving vital information on a wide range of issues surrounding HIV. Few people are able and willing to talk so openly about such issues and their support for a third year in a row was vital to the success of the Roadshow.
ZANERELA saw the tournaments as a great opportunity, noting:
“Sports such as football is a uniting factor not only among youths, but even among elderly people in Zambia, hence it provides a good platform to engage with people at community level.”
It should be noted that despite the fact that more men were tested, more than twice as many women tested positive; 13 women to 6 men. This illustrates the continued need to involve women in activities that help promote their sexual health and further their understanding of HIV. Involving men in this process also helps develop a greater understanding of gender issues and allows for enhanced sensitivity to the importance of women’s sexual health, especially regarding HIV.
During this year’s Roadshow, 1,000 footballs were donated to local sports teams, schools and community and youth groups. The aim was to increase access to sport and raise levels of participation. Equipment is a constant challenge for the vast majority of people that Alive & Kicking encountered on the Roadshow and the donation of footballs were vitally important to continued activities.
The balls are made locally, at Alive & Kicking’s workshop in Lusaka, from African leather and are printed with basic health messages. They are more durable than alternative synthetic balls and their manufacture also contributes to the sustainable employment of 42 local staff, including 13 disabled stitchers.
Three balls were donated to each coach on the course, with another three donated to each team participating in the tournaments. This allows the newly qualified coaches the opportunity to plan more effectively for future sessions and involve more players in their activities.
Recipients of the balls were asked to provide information on how many people would use the balls, and whether they would be used in health education activities, allowing the impact of the donations to be better measured. The balls that were donated during the Roadshow are likely to be used by over 40,000 people, 20,000 of whom will be using them in health education.
Sport provision in schools is often scarce due to lack of equipment and the ball donations will greatly improve their ability to deliver sport to young people, week in, week out.
“The first ever U12 community girls’ team was formed under our team KK Stars Soccer academy as a result of the ball donation from Alive & Kicking. It also increased capacity to handle a big number of children gained from the course. Currently a total of 17 girls are training with our team.”
Mastard Nyirenda, a coach from Chongwe
“The balls will go a long way in enhancing sporting activities in the school. Our learners will be kept busy and thus avoid anti-social activities that are rife in the community”
Headteacher, Chipata Primary School
The 2014 Alive & Kicking Zambia HIV Awareness Roadshow in Lusaka Province provided a very different setting to last years’ project in the Central Province, but proved to be equally successful. Trained coaches are now able to deliver HIV education through sport to thousands of young people on an ongoing basis. Many more are also able to participate in their own sporting activities thanks to the ball donations made by Alive & Kicking. Tournaments allowed around a thousand young people to participate in an organised sporting event with thousands more enjoying the activities and receiving vital information about HIV and sexual health. On top of that, the tournaments gave 425 people the opportunity to find out their HIV status. 19 people discovered that they are HIV positive and were given all the necessary support and advice to help them live a healthy life.
The Roadshow has given many people the confidence to talk more openly about HIV within their communities and learn more about the issues faced by their peers and neighbours. As one participant noted,
“The important thing is that it encourages you and other people to want to know more about HIV. There is always more to learn. There is that need to want to learn more and help other people to understand.”
Awareness of HIV and related social issues remain the major problem facing Zambia. The 2014 Roadshow has played a valuable part in what is a huge ongoing challenge to fight HIV in communities across the country.