Category Archive for "Media"

Africa Goal featured in PrePex Newsletter

PrePex and Africa Goal cooperating for HIV Prevention

The 2014 World Cup ended last month and, after a very exciting set of games, we want to share with you a wonderful initiative that may just have happened right under your nose…

While you were sitting at home (or perhaps at your local pub) watching the evening match, a group of international volunteers was touring six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and screening a total of 21 games for public enjoyment, via satellite, in strategic urban and rural areas. These regions are known to have a high prevalence of HIV, with populations that are difficult to reach with traditional HIV outreach services.

Please check out the prepex website to read the full article…

Day 27 – Technical College, Masvingo, Zimbabwe (A Brazilian Debacle)

After unfortunately having to change our travel plans due to security concerns on our intended route (see previous post), we had to make some last-minute plans with additional partners in Zimbabwe. Luckily, BHASO (Batani HIV/AIDS Service Organisation) was keen and able to organize the two semi-final events near Masvingo in Southern Zimbabwe. We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we arrived at the local technical college for the first of these events. The game wasn’t starting until 10pm, but we had arrived with plenty of time to spare. The campus was almost eerily quiet and we were a bit nervous that it would be a very small event. But bit by bit, as we set up our equipment, started playing music and blowing on vuvuzelas, young men and women started emerging from the surrounding dormitories. Despite the bitter cold, a crowd of several hundred gathered on the outdoor volleyball court where we had set up the screen. With an hour left before the game, excited audience members took to the stage, dancing to the World Cup theme songs which warmed and energized everybody. There was also plenty of time for an HIV quiz session, with highly-coveted Brugge football jerseys and shorts distributed as prizes.

When Germany scored the first of their seven goals of the match, the crowd erupted. People danced in front of the screen, blew on vuvuzelas and cheered out loud. By the fourth goal of the match, the reaction was slightly more blunted, as disbelief crept in and people started wondering if this was really happening. The fifth, sixth and seventh goals prompted questions like, “Is this real or are you just showing highlights?” and “This seems more like a video game than a real match!” Although most people were cheering for Germany, it seemed that everyone felt at least a little sorry for the host nation, Brazil, being beaten so badly on their own soil. But overall, the tone of the night was very celebratory, which fit well with our birthday celebrations of the day for one of the Africa Goal team members. All in all, it was a night to remember!

Day 1 – Kasarani Kickoff: Testing Times and Triumphs

After a pretty frantic morning of final preparations before ‘kick off’, the Africa Goal team hit the road, heading North from Nairobi for the first event of 2014 in Kasarani township, about 45 minutes on a dirt road outside of Naivasha. Having planned with all the relevant authorities and arranged to meet at their offices on arrival to be shown the event location, we arrived to find that none of our three contact people could be reached on their phones or found at their offices, homes or anywhere in town!

Mild panic set in as our HIV partners began to arrive while we were left in the dark about the exact event location – as the sky also steadily got darker – slightly nerve-wrecking as we anticipated the prospect of our first full equipment set up in the field and with an audience!

Ominous black clouds gathering above us – completely obscuring the full moon – and the threat of imminent rain, added to the sense of drama.

After talking to some of the community members, we were led to the central football field as a potential location and, willing the clouds to pass, began to set up amidst much excitement and intrigue from all the kids in the community.

Our bigger-than-ever-very-impressive-screen went up first, followed by flood lights, satellite dish and finally connecting the decoder, projector and stereo to the generator. There was a collective sigh of relief when we found signal almost instantly – everything was falling into place.

Marie Stopes’ HIV counselors also arrived at that point and, since they had lent their mobile testing tents to some other partners previously, needed a private place to conduct the HIV counseling and testing (HCT) services. A combination of the Landrover backed against a wall, with a rope strung from the car to a pole pegged next to the wall, and sheets hanging from the rope worked perfectly as a make-shift counseling and testing room. The uptake of HCT at this – our first event of Africa Goal 2014 – was higher than ever before – there was already a queue forming as we completed set up of the testing area. The queue remained for the duration of the World Cup game – with at least 10 people waiting in line at any time. In total 58 people accessed HCT, about 20% of our audience members.

PS Kenya’s peer educators did a fantastic job of keeping the crowd’s attention with HIV information and condom demonstrations before the match and during half time – and encouraging everyone to know their HIV status. There was much amusement as audience members were encouraged to show off their skills by putting a condom on a torch (the most suitable apparatus that any of us had to hand!) – those who demonstrated putting on a condom correctly were rewarded for their efforts with an Africa Goal T-shirt.

Amazingly, and to all of our huge relief, the rain held off until the very end – we had a few light showers which we had to protect the equipment from but only when the game had ended, the equipment been taken down and as we were getting in the cars to leave the site did the rain really begin to fall heavily. After an early start, long day, exciting first event and late ending (we finished at 2am), the Africa Goal team members were exhausted but thrilled with the success of the first event. Thanks to our partners, PS Kenya and Marie Stopes, for their enthusiasm and support of our project – and for helping us make it such a success.

This first event was a fantastic example of what Africa Goal is all about – sharing a love of ‘the beautiful game’ with people who may otherwise miss out on the World Cup; finding new ways to support access to HIV services and information in the places where need is greatest; finding ways to overcome the inevitable challenges of working in remote areas – and occasionally, like this where the weather was concerned, having to rely on a little dash of Africa Goal luck!

A&U Magazine – Africagoal 2014 + Interview with Mary Leakey

Africa Goal 2014 featured in A&U magazine – a leading HIV magazine with 200,000+ readers!

This edition of the magazine will travel to the AIDS2014 conference in Melbourne, Australia this July – the premier gathering with 14,000 people all over the world working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic.

Africa Goal presents at TEDx Berlin

Impact and Lessons Learned

On Sunday Nov 14th, Radial System V in Berlin was host to the world’s first TEDxYouth conference:

TEDx is a programme which brings people with diverse backgrounds together under the motto ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. TEDx conferences seek to create a forum for exchange, inspiration and networking through the inclusion of speakers, artists, and TED video talks. TEDx is an interdependently organised TED conference hosted under the license of TED.

Link to Presentation Slides

Africa Goal on Al Jazeera

June 24, 2010 — The World Cup may be the biggest story in Africa, but for many who live there, getting to see a game is not always easy. Charity organizations are giving some of the continent’s most remote communities the chance to watch games on a big screen — as long as they watch an HIV/ Aids awareness campaign video first. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Awad reports from a screening in Mtiba, a fishing village in Western Kenya where HIV infection rates are among the highest in the country.


Africa Goal Featured in A&U Magazine

Africa Goal Scores with Live World Cup Broadcasts and HIV Prevention Talks
By Chael Needle – Managing Editor of A&U.

It may be hard to understand if you live in the United States, but the FIFA World Cup is a sporting event so intense that fans’ vocal chords are probably happy that the month-long soccer tournament takes place only every four years.

A group of dedicated advocates has tapped into the excitement around the World Cup, and soccer in general, and devised a nonprofit campaign to raise HIV prevention awareness in Southern Africa, a region with the highest prevalence of AIDS in the world.

Africa Goal was born of friendship and collegiality when its creators, who knew each other from working and living in Kenya before scattering to other pursuits, reunited four years ago in London for a get-together. “Some of us were living in London at the time and others were passing through. We were all studying at the time and getting excited about the summer break,” says Mary Leakey of Africa Goal.

They began to kick around an idea “to travel through Africa showing the World Cup soccer matches and using them as a platform for HIV information dissemination,” she says about the campaign’s organic evolution. Having either grown up in Africa or having lived there, they know what World Cup fever is all about, “even if there is no access to soccer balls or to broadcast matches,” notes Leakey, who works as a senior project officer at Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS). “The World Cup seemed like such a great way to engage people in HIV discourse.”

In 2006, Africa Goal took the ultimate road trip, complete with car-eating mud puddles, tire changes, but also pick-up games of soccer with the people they met and positive responses to prevention messages. Comprised of members whose experience ranges from media to development, the team traveled throughout Southern Africa, stopping each day to prep for the afternoon and early evening matches. Setting up a projector, retractable screen, dish, speakers and other tech needed to link up to Digital Satellite Television (DSTV), Africa Goal showed free-of-charge live broadcasts of World Cup Soccer matches in villages, where fans’ only access to soccer is often radio or print news reports. The team also used the opportunity to present videos, supplied by UNAIDS and sometimes local NGOs, to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS as a sort of pre-show. Africa Goal partnered with NGOs based in the community whenever possible, inviting their experts to lead discussions in the newly created communal event. The 2006 campaign was successful so Africa Goal is going out on the road again this year.

“No sport draws the crowds, excitement, and attention in Africa like soccer does—it’s a crowd-puller. And the majority of the audience correlates with the population sector most at risk for HIV infection (people aged fifteen to forty-nine years),” says Leakey about why soccer and HIV education make for a good fit. “Also a lot of men are drawn to the matches, so it is a great way to reach these traditionally hard-to-reach groups.

“More than that though, soccer has a fantastic way of uniting people, connecting people, and giving people a sense of common purpose, and it is this we really need to harness in the fight against HIV. Soccer also defies traditional cultural barriers; people from all walks of life, all ages, men, women, boys and girls can enjoy a soccer match together. By using the platform created by soccer we can take advantage of the unique communication forum that it affords and reach people on a new level, while also encouraging discussion among the audience, which may not happen in day-to-day circumstances.”

Most of the 2006 team members are returning. Again, Africa Goal will follow a route that has been nicknamed the “AIDS Highway,” whose high volume of traffic has increased trade, transport, and transactional sex, and along which the prevalence of HIV is high. This year, the team will travel through Eastern and Southern Africa, starting in Nairobi, Kenya, in time for the June 11 kickoff, and ending in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the final on July 11, with stops in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland.

The 2006 trip was a learning experience for Africa Goal and this time some changes will be made.

On the technology front, for instance, Africa Goal will be adding a satellite locator to its bag of tricks. Says Leakey: “This will hopefully make it a bit easier to find the DSTV signal than it was last time—when all we had was a compass!”

She continues: “This time around we have been in communication with local partners long before arriving at the match locations so that we can plan with them. We feel the input of local partners is vital to ensuring the relevance of the information shared, as well as the sustainability of the intervention. In 2006, we partnered with local organizations but most of the planning with them was done on the ground when we arrived at a location. This time, we have the advantage of knowing a lot of the partners and also having a better idea of who is doing what, and where, so that we can link with them more easily in advance.

“We are also planning a shorter overall trip so that the daily distances to be travelled are not so long—this is important because we have made arrangements to meet partners along the way so we need to allow time for border delays, breakdowns, punctures, etc., while still being able to get there on time. Having said that, with this kind of project, you really can’t plan for every eventuality, but you can turn every situation into a positive experience.”

Case in point: a village near Siavonga, Zambia, on the shores of Lake Kariba, 2006. A wrong turn made the Africa Goal team lose their way. The Ghana vs. Brazil match was starting in an hour, and the team did not have enough time to make it to their intended destination. They stopped at a village, “talked to the Chief and the nurse at the local clinic, and arranged with them to hold the match in the village square,” says Leakey. “The nurse facilitated a discussion around HIV before the match, focusing on the need for everyone to know their status, among other things. The match was really well attended. We had over 200 people there as everyone in the community had heard that the World Cup match was being shown and we had a very lively and participatory discussion about HIV—men, women, old and young people all joined in and debated certain cultural practices that increase risk and shared ideas on what needed to be done to reduce risk of new HIV infections in the community.”

The game was starting during the discussion so they called a time-out until the break. “We all watched the first half with enthusiasm—cheering every goal attempt, and every save, irrespective of which team was ahead. At half time, the HIV discussions continued before we watched the last half of the match, which ended up with Brazil winning 3–0,” says Leakey, who cheers for South Africa’s team. After the match, some audience members broached the idea of arranging a testing day at the clinic and it garnered enthusiastic support from the nurse, other audience members, and the Chief, who offered to be first in line.

Africa Goal followed up the next week with the nurse, who reported that 100 people had lined up by 7 a.m. to get tested. The Chief was first in line. The nurse “really appreciated the conducive environment that was created through the Africa Goal event, which enabled open discussion and also the feeling of unity that was generated, which helped everyone to realize that it was their combined responsibility to reduce HIV infection in the community.”

Partnering with community-based NGOs “helps to ensure our relevance to the particular communities that we will be working in,” notes Leakey. “We also feel that it is important for sustainability—so that people who come to see the matches relate the HIV information disseminated to our local partners and can more easily access further information or services if they require.” Africa Goal is respectful of and strives for cultural sensitivity, which, the nonprofit believes, is essential for effective messaging. The team members rely on the local NGOs for guidance, and videos shown are language-specific and culturally appropriate for each stop.

Of course, soccer is a universal language. Africa Goal builds on this by distributing soccer-themed prevention information packages. And this year Africa Goal is formalizing a program called Trading Footballs that first came about in 2006. “Regularly, we would stop to play a roadside soccer match along the way—to break up the journey—and were struck by how different the handcrafted balls were in each of the areas we visited. Since they are made out of whatever materials are at hand, the balls really do tell a story or their own. They are a true celebration of ‘the beautiful game’ and also of the innovation that is such an inspiring part of what we all love about Africa—there is always a solution, even if the ‘right’ tools are not available,” Leakey analogizes. The balls are indeed made with whatever is at hand—discarded plastic bags, string, wool, grass, and rubber, among other materials.

During the initial trip, “we had carried some factory-made soccer balls with us and, after one match, one of the children initiated exchanging his hand crafted ball for the factory made one.”

That simple trade inflated the new program. In all, 300 handcrafted balls were collected across nine countries. Doubling as art and promotion, the traded-in balls have been and continue to be exhibited at several galleries. During this trip, Africa Goal will document the stories behind each homemade soccer ball collected and the donated factory-stitched balls exchanged will each bear an imprinted HIV prevention message.

Also new this year are GOAL condoms. “The GOAL condom idea has been a great passion of mine for a long time now and is something that I really think could have a big impact on promoting safer sexual practices in the region,” says Leakey. “By producing high-quality condoms and marketing them for the specific audience in mind, with packaging and advertising that will appeal to the target audience, there is great scope for scaling up condom use; condoms still have a vital role to play in HIV prevention. I felt that launching a brand of condoms in line with the World Cup would be a great way to renew enthusiasm about condom use.” The branding and marketing strategy is smart and includes print ads that pun off of soccer terms and equipment: protection, gloves, scoring, studs. The tagline “Have you got a Goal?” and round packaging shaped like a soccer ball strives to reverse rampant negative attitudes toward condom use.

While a lack of funding did not allow Africa Goal to put condoms on shelves in time for the World Cup, Leakey is not giving up on the idea. “Soccer mania will be around long after the World Cup final and I think we can still piggyback on that to reinvigorate condom promotion. I’m also working on a number of other concepts for market-appropriate and more appealing condoms so I hope that, in the not too distant future, we will be seeing GOAL or something similar available here. Maybe someone reading this will see the potential of GOAL condoms and we’ll be seeing them on the shelves even sooner!”

Africa Goal has no problem sending  prevention into overtime. “Growing up in rural Kenya, you couldn’t help but be affected by the impact of HIV, which was particularly visible given the small size of the community,” says Leakey about her commitment to AIDS. “A lot of people that I knew within the community were affected. I always felt that there was more that could be done, new ways to reach people with information and new and innovative ways to respond to the epidemic. I have worked with a number of different organizations and on a number of different projects and, although it can be tough, I get a lot of satisfaction out of the work.”

Africa Goal is thankful for its sponsors, among them the Government of Canada, SAfAIDS, and PSI Zimbabwe. For anyone interested in finding out more information about the project or GOAL condoms, or contacting Africa Goal, log on to The Web site will also be updated throughout the campaign with news, events, and stories about the project.