Football fights back against HIV

Football can make a difference when it comes to tackling HIV and AIDS and a trip to Brighton in the UK proved it. Eighteen people from 12 countries visited the UK to receive specialised training on football and HIV prevention, treatment and care at Brighton’s American Express Community Stadium in September 2011.

The Alliance organised the course with Albion in the Community (AITC), the charitable arm of Brighton & Hove Albion football club. It aimed to help participants to use football as a way of reaching young people in their communities to stop the spread of HIV. Five of the six participants were from organisations supported by the Alliance to tackle HIV at community-level.

Participants spent the week developing their skills in football coaching, leadership and understanding of HIV/AIDS prevention with football and HIV experts. “Football is a highly effective method of reaching young people and developing their confidence, skills and understanding of HIV,” explained Jacob Naish, Head of Community Cohesion for Albion in the Community. “We want the participants to go back to their countries confident to tackle not just a football but life and death issues.”

Cedric Zevallos was one of the participants. He lives in Port au Prince in Haiti, a city that was devastated by the powerful earthquake in 2010.

“In Haiti, football is not just a passion but one of the rare tools able to bring together the youth no matter how hard life’s situations are. I’m really looking forward to meeting the other people taking part and sharing ideas and experiences with them. I want to develop my football coaching and HIV communication skills so I can take them back to Haiti and make improvements to how we help prevent HIV through sport.”