This study looked for a measurable change in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) knowledge among adolescent girls following participation in an existing sport for development programme in Zambia called Futebol dá Força - a programme combining SRHR education and football.
Limited research has assessed whether sports participation can be linked to decreasing risky sexual behaviour among adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa. The current study aimed to assess whether participation in a football league that provides sexual and reproductive health and rights lessons before each football match strengthened adolescent Zambian girls’ sexual health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour.
Adolescent female participants in the girls-only football league run by the organisation Futebol dá Força (FDF, n=120) completed a questionnaire assessing sexual health knowledge, reported attitudes, and reported behaviour. Logistic regressions were used to assess associations between participants’ self-reported programme exposure and their sexual health knowledge, reported attitudes, and reported behaviour. After examining all exposure levels and adjusting for age, participants with at least six months of reported exposure to the FDF programme had better sexual health knowledge and attitudes compared to those reporting less than six months exposure (AOR 4.74, 95% CI 1.70- 13.19).
Those in the more exposed group also had higher odds of reporting using a condom at last sex (AOR=11.64, 95% CI=1.08-124.57). These findings suggest that sports-based educational programmes may improve sexual health knowledge and attitudes among African adolescent girls, potentially reducing the risk of sexually transmitted disease and early aged pregnancy.