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More than just a game: Sport as a communication platform in sexuality education for adolescent girls


More than just a game: Sport as a communication platform in sexuality education for adolescent girls

Publication type

Research and Project Evaluations


Grassroot Soccer South Africa & The Ford Foundation



Grassroot Soccer South Africa & The Ford Foundation

Since Grassroot Soccer’s founding in 2002, research has been vital to our organizational growth and development. Research and innovation shape our curriculum development, monitoring and evaluation processes, and organisational strategy. This report examines our sport and sexuality education programmes for adolescent girls in South Africa, also expanded throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with broader literature complemented by unique insights and recommendations from our work. Grassroot Soccer learns by evaluating our work scientifically, and we have seen that the process of engaging adolescent girls in a well-designed, sport-based, inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programme can be gender transformative, and results in a range of positive outcomes for girls and their broader communities.

We have also learned that young people want to learn about sexuality more broadly, as opposed to separating issues such as HIV, gender, relationships, power, violence, safety, sexuality and identity. We recognise that young people are too diverse an audience to group together meaningfully in sexuality education. Grassroot Soccer is thus striving to understand the ways in which sex, age, gender and socialisation shape what is appropriate messaging for adolescents. We understand the need to involve youth in these processes and work with adolescents and peer educators to design interventions that relate to their identities and experiences.

This report draws on recent Grassroot Soccer research projects in South Africa to illustrate sport’s potential as a communication platform in sexuality education, in particular for adolescent girls. Five broad themes emerged from these projects that highlight the unique contributions that well-designed sport for development initiatives can make to improve sexuality education and SRHR outcomes:

  1. Sport is engaging
  2. Sport is physical
  3. Sport is gendered
  4. Sport is empowering
  5. Sport is about relationships

This report is intended for communities, development practitioners, research institutions, governments and donor agencies. We hope that the insights herein will help to guide the design of future interventions and research on the use of sport in sexuality education.

Thank you to everyone who made this report possible, including generous support from the Ford Foundation. This report is dedicated to all of our communities, partners and supporters who continue to strive for gender justice and the wellbeing of adolescent girls across South Africa.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]



Chris Barkley, Jenn Warren and Ben Sanders


Monday, July 25, 2016 - 23:00