Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Beating stigma through football


Aids Alliance

We meet the participants of an exciting new project from Albion in the Community, the charitable arm of Brighton & Hove Albion football club, and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Ginan is one of eighteen people from developing countries who are in Brighton this week for an intensive course to help them to use football as a way of reaching young people in their communities to stop the spread of HIV.

Tattooed, 30 year-old Deradjat Ginandjar Koesmayadi from Bandung in Indonesia at first glance looks more like a gang leader than a leader of a successful and respected NGO. His cheeky grin and youthful looks belie the hard life that he has had from drug addiction, homelessness, prison and rehab.

Ginan, as he is known, leads Rumah Cemara, a community based organisation for people living with HIV and people who use drugs. They run HIV prevention, treatment and care programmes and provide people who use drugs with harm reduction support such as clean needles and counseling.

Ginan used drugs for nearly 7 years and has been living with HIV for the last 11 so he knows what he’s talking about. He takes antiretrovirals and keeps healthy through his main passion – football. It is this passion that really comes across when you meet him.

“Football is the source of my happiness. For me it has a broader meaning than merely sport. I looked deeper into the essence of playing football and the values in it to make changes in my own life when I needed to.

Ginan during the training (c) The Alliance

Inspired by his own experience, he decided to look at ways in which he could use football to help others like him in his own community.

“In 2006 I began organising regular football practices for people living with HIV in my community and then as Rumah Cemara we transformed this activity into a more effective and formal programme.

Rumah Cemara, a partner of the International Aids Alliance, work hard to beat stigma and discrimination by proving you can be living with HIV and be fit and healthy. Football is one way they reach other young people in the community to break down some of the negative perceptions that exist.

To date they have engaged over 100 people living with HIV and drugs and more than other 750 people in different football teams on their ‘Football for change’ programme.

“I believe that football can be used as an effective intervention to educate people about HIV and drug abuse, as well as to reduce stigma and discrimination.”

Ginan has become a public figure in his country and was one of the first Indonesians to declare his positive status on national television. He is also a policy adviser to Indonesia’s National AIDS Commission and National Narcotics Board. He is currently captaining team Indonesia in the Homeless World Cup in Paris.

He is spending a week in the UK in Brighton to build his skills on how to develop HIV outreach programmes through football. He hopes to build a regional league across the province of West Java with 20 football teams of people living with HIV.

“I’m very excited about coming to the UK for Football Fighting Back. It is a fantastic idea and a great opportunity for me to improve my programme management and evaluation abilities and be even more effective in the work that I do back home.”

Hear from other participants:

Read the Guardian's coverage of the event, Using football to kick about a message on AIDS.