Turning Playing Fields into Teaching Grounds

Soccer Saves believes that young people in Africa can take charge of their future, lead healthy lives and change the course of the HIV epidemic.

This exciting new initiative—a teaming of Soccer Saves, the Seattle Sounders FC and Save the Children—will promote healthy lifestyles for youth in Africa using organized soccer as the foundation. With the support of Soccer Saves and soccer fans, adolescents and youth will have access to information and services that will help them reduce HIV transmission and unintended pregnancies.

Youth are at the center of the global HIV epidemic, accounting for more than 50% of all new infections. However, pregnancy is still the leading cause of death for young women ages 15 through 19 around the world.

Still, young people possess the greatest potential for change. Adolescents can avoid HIV and early pregnancy with guidance from caring adults, comprehensive health education and access to confidential reproductive health services. They can learn new behaviors that could save their lives. And if given the opportunity, they will utilize services that can keep them safe and healthy.

The Soccer Saves program will build upon Save the Children’s proven success in helping adolescents obtain reproductive and sexual health information and services. Supportive coaches and adults will help increase the quality and quantity of HIV prevention information. Youth-friendly health services will provide greater accessibility to voluntary counseling and HIV testing. And young people who are most at risk will be empowered to help reduce the spread of HIV. 

Work will begin in Fall 2009 in Ethiopia, where Save the Children has been assisting high-risk youth—including school drop-outs, street youth, vulnerable girls and unemployed young people—in 21 towns and four regions of the country. It will expand to other countries on the African continent over the coming years.