I read about this program Grassroot Soccer (GRS) in a Peace Corps publication called WorldView. GRS uses soccer to teach youth about HIV, life skills, and general sexual health. Given my host country’s incredibly high STI and early pregnancy rates as well as their adoration for soccer, I naturally found it quite intriguing. Knowing how much she loves soccer, I called my fellow PCV, Syd, to see what she thought of it. She said she’d let me know when she had a chance to read about it. That was at the end of last year. Time passed.
Then one day I get a message from her saying “Let’s join our Community Health powers and do this thing!” Since the program has not yet come into the South Pacific, we decided to pilot it here in Port Vila and just see how it went. We both came into town and, in three days, had it planned and were ready to begin (and whew what a few days that was).
Long story short, IT WAS AWESOME! So much fun, such awesome people, great venue (Wan Smolbag soccer field), and support from random places, such as Vanuatu Football Federation. Oh, and hundreds of pictures. Here’s a taste. More to come.
Behold the two bags full of hundreds of condoms that lived by my hotel bed, reminding me each morning before the event started of what was coming. 🙂
Signing the contract. The very first practice begins with establishing the rules. This allows for us to build a safe environment to discuss taboo topics in a conservative culture.
Meet Frank. We met him two days before the whole thing kicked off. We told him what we were doing and he committed himself to co-facilitate the whole thing with us at the drop of a hat. This man doesn’t sit still. He coaches just about every sport Wan Smolbag has to offer and is anxious to get more life-skills for youth activities into the Wan Smolbag basket. He blew us away, always there before us and always stayed late. Any glitch (and with only three days of planning, there were plenty), he was on it. Couldn’t have done it without this new insta-friend.
Syd is brilliant. She came up with the most awesometastic soccer-related icebreaker during a break between “practices”. I hope I get to work with the girl plenty–in any way. She plain and simply kicks butt in every way possible.
Cheer: FIFA WORLD CUP!”
Keep an eye out for more! So many pictures and so much fun! I intend to pilot the program yet again in the rural setting of my village on Erromango. Stay posted for stories from all these great experiences!