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Grassroot Soccer and Fives Futbol hosted a World AIDS Day 5v5 soccer tournament at Fives Futbol Century City On Sunday, 30 November 2014. In coordination with the TB/HIV Care Association, World Design Capital project Rock Girl #WDC373, and sponsors including The MAC AIDS Fund, ABSA/Barclays, University of Stellenbosch, Forward Zone, Vasco da Gama and Powerade, Grassroot Soccer launches the inaugural #IAMAFOOTBALLER World AIDS Day soccer tournament to raise awareness for HIV prevention and care in South Africa.

The #IAMAFOOTBALLER 5v5 tournament hosted 40 teams, 32 male and 8 female, competing for great prizes and an opportunity to give back to their communities. All proceeds will go to Grassroot Soccer’s work to prevent HIV in South Africa. In honour of World AIDS Day, team captains and players will wear red #IAMAFOOTBALLER armbands.

In South Africa, young women aged 15-24 are up to eight times more likely than young men to have HIV. The threat of gender-based violence further fuels this risk, resulting in new infections and engraining social norms that hinder safe sexual practice.

Positive role models are crucial to keep youth HIV-free and provide opportunities for them to become leaders on and off the field. Grassroot Soccer creates safe spaces for youth to play soccer, take action in their communities, access information about HIV & AIDS, and get tested.

“Football made me believe that I can achieve anything, no matter what I come up against,” 20-year-old Athiphila, a Grassroot Soccer Coach and member of the all girls soccer team, RV United, says. “It’s given me the opportunity to be the person I am today. Football has helped me to prevent risk for HIV or teenage pregnancy. It’s given me a lot of strength.”

#IAMAFOOTBALLER takes place on Sunday, 30 November 2014, with the 40 teams moving through group and knockout stages from 14:00-20:00. The event area hosts a players’ lounge, MAC Cosmetics “war-paint” applications, Grassroot Soccer Coaches leading HIV awareness activities, selling of handmade Ragballs in support of Khayelitsha’s own girls soccer team RV United, Rock Girl’s ‘safe spaces’ benches, and confidential HIV testing and counselling through the TB/HIV Care Association.

The winning teams receive a R5000 Canal Walk voucher and adidas kit (men’s), and a R2000 Canal Walk voucher and MAC Cosmetics application vouchers (women’s). Best goalie and top player will receive Nike boots.

#IAMAFOOTBALLER also connects Grassroot Soccer’s girls soccer team from Khayelitsha with Rock Girl’s young women from Manenberg. Joining Grassroot Soccer on World AIDS Day with their colourful mosaic benches and youth reporters (in partnership with the Children’s Radio Foundation), Rock Girl is a movement seeking to reduce violence against women and girls through the creation of safe spaces. Rock Girl empowers girls to stay in school and become economically independent so that they can live healthy, risk-free lives. Rock Girl is an approved World Design Capital project, #WDC373.

Using a mobile unit and professional care team to ensure privacy, the TB/HIV Care Association will provide voluntary testing and counselling to players and spectators on the day in a customised caravan and gazebo.

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