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Football for HIV education in South Africa


Football for HIV education in South Africa

Coaches Across Continents (CAC) senior staff member Markus Bensch returns to his old home in Durban, South Africa to run the CAC programme with long-time partners Whizzkids United (WKU).

From October 2012 to December 2013 I volunteered for WKU in Durban, South Africa. Back then, WKU had two workplaces, the office in Durban and the Health Academy (HA) in the Edendale Township 70 km away from Durban.

The administrative office was in Durban and at the HA children and youth of Edendale could access health services and participate in different programmes after school. The focus of WKU’s work is HIV/AIDS prevention through football. WKU is running year-round life skill sessions at local schools that use football to educate students on HIV and raise awareness for the services and programmes at the HA.

Ten months after I left WKU I was lucky to be able to come back, see some of my old colleagues and friends and conduct a one week CAC programme together with my current colleague Kelly Conheeney. I’m happy that I can say colleague, because Kelly just decided to be on board full time with CAC for 2015. Welcome Kelly!

It is the fifth year that CAC has trained coaches from WKU and Edendale Township. The difference this year is that the Football for Hope (FFH) centre that WKU has been rewarded with is finally finished, and the previous two workplaces are now united at the centre. We were lucky that we could train with the coaches on the brand new artificial pitch and make use of the multifunctional room in the new building.

Kelly and I welcomed 19 coaches on Monday morning. But first I received a very warm welcome from my old colleagues. It felt like I had never left and I realised how much the WKU staff had taken me into their hearts. I was very happy to work with some of my old colleagues during our programme.

We started with a general introduction into football for social impact and into the work of CAC, because it was most of the participants first time attending a CAC training. When we got on the pitch and introduced “circle of friends” and “Messi skills for life” we realised that they enjoyed those games and were capable of identifying the social impact messages of the games very quickly. Circle of friends is CAC’s most played game, and every session starts with this warm up.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


Article type



Nicholas Gates


Monday, November 17, 2014 - 23:00