Saturday 30th June saw Kirumba stadium in Mwanza, host five football teams of young people, four of which were from Kamanga and one from the neighbouring town of Geita. For six weeks these young people had been coached in football drills that have helped them explore issues around sexual health and HIV/AIDS testing.
As TackleAfrica Project Manager Ash Phillips said, “Tournaments are a great way to bring together all the teams who have been learning the same TA drills over the course of the pilot scheme. It is a good opportunity for the children to compete and have fun against teams of a similar age and from the same area, and have the opportunity to play in a stadium and a decent pitch. Additionally, tournaments present a fantastic opportunity to conduct Voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing (VCT) with the beneficiaries”
The tournament opened with Ash welcoming the young people and their coaches to the first ever Cedar Foundation Championships 2018. “We are here to celebrate your hard work in the TackleAfrica drills these past six weeks and to have fun!” He added.
Each of the Kamangan teams had been trained by a TA / Cedar Tanzania coach. One of the coaches was Grace with her team Nyakazuzu FC. Of her Ash said, “Grace is our youngest and only female coach. I enjoyed seeing how she interacted with her team and the way they responded to her coaching manner. She was always with her team chatting and joking, she clearly has a great bond with them and this was evident as she coached them to second place.”
The winners of the tournament were Kosovo FC, coached by our very own Field Officer Abduli. But before the celebrations could fully get under way, Lawrence a medical technician from Kamanga Health Centre, gathered all the players and counseled them about the importance of getting tested for HIV. One by one the young footballers made their way to a room in the stadium grounds that had been especially prepared for the occasion.
“They have all been learning about the importance of regular testing when potentially exposed to HIV and tournaments like this allow us to bring VCT to them in a relaxed and non-clinical environment,” Ash said. “We have seen from our programmes in Kenya and Uganda that this approach works well with youth groups and this was continued on Saturday with 48 young people getting tested.”