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One's to watch

HIVsport’s 5-year SportCares initiative is being introduced in two parts. One in the run up to, during and after the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and the other designed to do the same around the 2012 Olympics. No prizes then for guessing the theme for the first part from 2009-11, as football and the second part from 2011-13, as being linked with Olympic sports. The overlap year in 2011 will provide for handover and sharing of good practice from the first part to the second.

HIVsport has begun discussions with three organisations that use football to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS that we feel fit the HIVsport criteria. This section is about them. What they do, how they do it and what they’ve achieved. It’s our showcase to promote the excellent work of other organisations so we can all learn. 

WhizzKids United FC

A sexual health and HIV programme taken out of Africa to be delivered in the UK, is a programme designed and run by Africaid.

HIV/AIDS is the biggest global health challenge in the world today with HIV infection amongst young people continuing to increase at an alarming rate. In the absence of a cure, prevention is the mainstay in the struggle against AIDS. However, much of the prevention work to date has focused solely on imparting knowledge of the disease. Prolonged efforts to equip the youth with the ‘life skills’ needed to actually apply that knowledge to their daily lives has been limited. As a result young people continue to become infected. 

In response to the staggering new infection rates amongst young people in South Africa, Africaid launched a revolutionary new programme called WhizzKids United (WKU), a football-led life skills training programme. The programme harnesses the excitement generated by the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ as a vehicle for social change. 

 By sharing information about safer sex and HIV prevention as part of a sports-ledprogramme, there is the opportunity to successfully engage young people in vital sexual health education. WKU’s innovative approach uses football as a medium to induce healthy behavioural change among young people by equipping them with the life skills needed to prevent the spread of HIV. In doing so, the programme strives to enhance the participant’s social environment that will see them avoid the AIDS epidemic and go on to lead fulfilling and productive lives. 


WhizzKids United Philosophy

WhizzKids United understands that for life skills to be adopted by young people, they must be delivered in a fun and motivational way; and in a language that is universal and easy to understand.

One of their sessions being delivered at a school in Uganda 

By harnessing the passion children have for football, WKU draws on different facets of the game and interprets them into valuable life skills. This method not only empowers young people to avoid becoming infected with HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), but also teaches them how to become healthy, responsible citizens, motivated by values such as self confidence, responsibility and self control.
The Goal
WhizzKids United provides HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support to youth worldwide through the medium of football.

The Strategy
Rather than simply imparting knowledge of HIV, WKU addresses the underlying beliefs and pressures in young people that lead to unhealthy, high-risk lifestyles and strives to: (a) motivate young people to want to lead healthy, productive lives; and (b) empower them with the life skills they need to achieve their goals. By encouraging young people to think about what their goals are and then identifying the obstacles they are likely to face, WKU allows each of them the opportunity to plan for the future and take responsibility for their health, their goals and what they want to be.

The WhizzKids United Model for Life Skills Development

The Tactics
The programme uses different facets of the game, which are interpreted to illustrate a valuable life skill. The course consists of a series of 1-hour sessions, each addressing a different aspect of football and life. Boys and girls between 12 and 14 years of age, engage in professional football training exercises, after which they are brought back together on the field where the lessons from the training are interactively applied to life. Children come away from the course empowered with the knowledge, self-efficacy and skills they need to practice healthy modes of behaviour. 

The life skills programme however, is only the start of the work. WKU prides itself in offering continued support to the participants who come through the programmes, through peer education and football coaching to ensure the successful reinforcement of the lessons learnt, and on-going support for the kids through the tough decisions they have to make growing-up. All the participants graduating through the programme are also invited to attend one of our World Cup Tournaments as a celebration of their achievements and learning of new skills. 

Long term support is then provided through WKU Health Academies. These adolescent specific clinics provide Counselling, HIV testing and HIV drug treatment for youth already infected.

A Brief History

WhizzKids United has now been delivering HIV education to young people in South Africa since 2006. Following a very successful pilot of the programme in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, WKU received a mandate from the provincial government to expand its programme throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal.  

In each community WKU partners with a local NGO which provides staff to be trained as Life Skills Trainers through week long ‘Train the Trainer Workshops’. Monthly follow up and support is then conducted by WKU, to offer specialist advice to both the participants and the trainers. 

In 2008, WKU became an official implementing partner of FIFA’s Football for Hope social responsibility movement. WKU hopes to capitalize on the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ by harnessing the passion Africa has for football to address Africa’s biggest challenge HIV and, in doing so, bring about a bright AIDS-free future for the next generation of football lovers. Running also in Uganda and Ghana, the programme has educated over 10,000 young people aged between 11 and 16 years of age on the vital life skills designed to enhance HIV prevention.

In the run-up to South Africa hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and at a time when British teenagers are desperately in need of practical and effective sex education, Africaid has developed a tailored version of the programme relevant to British teenagers through its sponsors at Abbott. This programme is called ‘WhizzKids United F.C’ (WKU FC).


Rationale for Implementation in the UK

There is widespread agreement among young people’s groups, politicians and commentators that Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) in Britain’s schools is failing to engage young people and that British teenagers desire engaging content and delivery of sex education. WKU F.C is aiming to take SRE out of the classroom and onto the football pitch to educate in a less formal and more interactive setting. The objective of the programme is to use the power of football and the reinforcement of positive role models to give boys and girls the actual skills they need to make healthy choices. By bringing lessons from Africa to the UK, Africaid aims to empower young people from all over the world with the information they need to live healthier lives.

WKU FC Programme

WKU have adapted the programme from our work in Africa to fit specifically into a UK environment. The length of the programme has been shortened down to 5 one-hour sessions (teaching topics such as ‘The Goal’, ‘Obstacles’ and ‘Control’) and a greater emphasis has been placed on identifying HIV as a sexually transmitted infection, rather than an isolated disease, as it is often viewed by people in the UK.  

 A group of girls practising their turning skills – learning to navigate their way out of trouble

WKU use the same philosophy in delivering their messages, placing a strong emphasis on goal-setting and problem-solving scenarios, which has been a key part of our success in Africa. 

As well as teaching HIV prevention, the programme also offers other important sexual health messaging and services (such as chlamydia screening and teenage pregnancy) a vehicle to deliver their messages to their hard to reach target audience, in an engaging and relevant environment.

Pilot Programmes in the UK

Through sponsorship from Abbott, they have been able to forge an implementation partnership with the Football Foundation to pilot the WKU FC programme within some of their existing community schemes across the UK. The Football Foundation is the UK’s biggest sports charity, and is directly funded by the Premier League, the FA and the UK Government. This partnership is important to gain credibility for the programme on a football level, and also to provide an avenue into the football arena – an area which has in large been reluctant to enter the HIV or sexual health messaging, particularly in the UK.

WKU are working alongside football community trusts and foundations from five different professional clubs, to deliver the programme to participants of their community youth schemes. The primary scheme we are piloting through is the Kickz programme; a partnered programme with the Metropolitan Police and the Premier League that aims to reduce crime and the numbers of young offenders in particular crime hot-spots, through structured football coaching.  

WhizzKids United F.C is being run as part of this programme at the following football clubs:

  • Manchester United
  • Blackburn Rovers
  • Aston Villa
  • Charlton Athletic
  • Arsenal

In addition to these programmes, WKU are also targeting inner-city schools to pilot the programme within the existing academic structure.

For More Information:
If you would like to find out more about the work of WKU, either in Africa or in the UK, the relevant contact details can be found below:

For information on our programmes in the UK:


For Information on our programmes in South Africa, Uganda or Ghana:


Tackle Africa


TackleAfrica is a small UK charity that uses sport to reach young people in Africa to increase their understanding of HIV and enable them to live safe and healthy lives.

The charity is run on a voluntary basis by a small team of trustees, who work in support of a Managing Director. We are looking for an experienced HIV professional with experience of HIV programming in Africa to join our Executive Committee and take overall responsibility for ensuring that HIV content of our work is accurate and effective. 

 For more information, please email 

TackleAfrica is UK registered charity 1094439

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HIVsport would like to thank
Durex for their support


Durex's vision is that of an HIV-free world.

We have an overriding commitment to sexual health and a strong track record of supporting initiatives to raise awareness of HIV prevention for all.

This is why we are proud to sponsor HIVsport in its effort to promote sexual health in the field of sport.

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