Mpilonhle’s Sports & Health Programme includes the following activities:
- Equip boys’ and girls’ soccer teams at partner schools and assist in the development of a school-based soccer league.
Mpilonhle is supporting boys’ and girls’ soccer teams at each of our 12 current partner schools by providing equipment, training and organizational assistance. Mpilonhle is also supporting and encouraging competitive soccer matches between schools, thus improving the currently infrequent and ad-hoc scheduling of high school soccer matches. These school based teams and leagues not only promote healthy lifestyles for participating individuals, it provides Mpilonhle with regularly scheduled and well-attended community events at which our mobile health services and education can reach other community members, particularly young men who are otherwise difficult to attract to our mobile services.
- Develop or improve new sports facilities and water schemes at a limited number of Mpilonhle partner schools for use by both schools and community members.
Mpilonhle is strategically identifying and improving sports facilities at a limited number of partner schools for use by both the school and the surrounding community. The selection of sites for improvement is based on considerations of material need, demographics, the availability of quality sports facilities in the area, the capacity of school administration, and geographic/geologic concerns. All new facilities supported by Mpilonhle will be “dual-access” facilities; built at schools, but with separate controlled access points for the school and the community. Schools are primarily responsible for management and maintenance of these new facilities, but receive ongoing support from Mpilonhle. All new facilities also include improved water schemes that not only support a quality grass pitch, but provided much improved access to water for other school and community needs.
- Implement a peer-based health intervention program at partner schools that creates simple but powerful connections between sports and life skills, particularly in relation to the stigma, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Mpilonhle has implemented of a peer-based health intervention program at all 12 of their partner schools. The program objective is to create important connections between sports and life skills and provide effective peer-educators to partner schools and students. The “Skillz” curriculum, developed by Grassroot Soccer, forms the basis of this intervention. Teams of well-trained peer-educators are leading sessions of the Skillz curriculum during Life Orientation periods at partner schools, with extended special sessions during the regular monthly visits of a Mpilonhle mobile unit to each school. This peer mentor programme enjoys the support and enthusiastic cooperation of school faculty and administration and has become one of Mpilonhle’s most important activities.
- Assist local soccer leaders in the development of community youth soccer leagues in areas served by Mpilonhle.
Mpilonhle has developed – and will continue to cultivate – a broad network of soccer coaches, players and organizers in the communities that we serve. In addition, Mpilonhle has developed a strong working relationship with local officials of the South African Football Association (SAFA). Mpilonhle is working with all local partners to improve the structure and scheduling of community youth soccer in our area. Mpilonhle’s primary contributions to this effort are organizational capacity development and strategic material support. Mpilonhle is improving organizational capacity development by facilitating the initiatives of local SAFA youth development officers, as well as independent mediation with coaches, players and organizers in the community. Strategic material support is provided in the form of small referee subsidies to reduce the cost burden imposed on individual teams.
- Organize and/or sponsor at least six tournaments for community youth soccer teams every year that will include scheduled health education sessions, as well as VCT services and basic nursing and social work services.
Mpilonhle is working closely with a prominent local soccer clubs to organize youth soccer tournament that include innovative scheduling of health education sessions and the provision of health services for every player in the tournament, as well as interested spectators. These efforts ensure that opportunities for organized youth soccer competition occur regularly, and that health services are promoted and provided at these events. At least six tournaments will be organized/sponsored each year, corresponding approximately with the following seasons or events: New Year (January), Easter (March/April), Youth Day (June), Women’s Day (August – tournament will be exclusively for girls soccer), World AIDS Day (December), plus one other tournament. Prizes will be awarded in the form of soccer kits, balls and trophies/medals.
- Improve the standard of soccer coaching and officiating in our area, as well as improve coach’s abilities to act as positive mentors to their players, by offering coaching/referee clinics that include an integrated health curriculum and community health resource manual.
Mpilonhle organizes professional coaching and referee clinics for both high school and community youth soccer coaches/referees. These events improve local coaching/officiating standards, as well as expand Mpilonhle’s network of local soccer leaders. Included in all clinics (though, more explicitly in coaching clinics) is a mentorship and health curriculum adapted from Unicef’s “Coaching Boys into Men” curriculum and Mpilonhle’s existing community health education curriculum. In addition, a simple community health resource guide produced by Mpilonhle is distributed to coaches/referees to aid and encourage them in becoming community resources themselves. This guide includes Mpilonhle’s contact information, contacts and information regarding relevant local government agencies and services, an inventory of hospitals/clinics and other health services in the area, and some basic health information.
- Improve development opportunities for the most talented local soccer players by creating a semi-residential Football Academy that includes an integrated peer leadership and health curriculum.
Mpilonhle has partnered with a prominent local soccer club to create a Football Academy with the dual purpose of developing top talent (both boys and girls) and producing highly effective peer mentors. This academy will be fully and professionally equipped and staffed, and will be located in a new sports facility capable of hosting youth soccer tournaments. The academy will utilize a community boarding strategy to make intensive training and education session possible Friday through Sunday. According to this boarding strategy, community members near the academy who have available and appropriate space will be given a small stipend to cover the weekend cost of boarding an academy member. In this way, academy members are not permanently removed from the schools or communities where they are best known, thus ensuring the academy’s peer leadership and health education training can have maximum impact. This comprehensive peer leadership and health education curriculum will include elements of Unicef’s “Coaching Boys into Men,” Mpilonhle’s existing health curriculum, Grassroot Soccer’s “Skillz” curriculum, and other peer leadership/health education curriculum and best practices.