Editor’s Note: Boitumle, a 15 year-old boy, is a Grassroot Soccer participant in Khayelitsha, South Africa, one of Cape Town’s largest townships. Here he tells his story in his own words (edited for length):
My name is Boitumle and I am 15 years old. I was born in Hermanus but I’ve grown up most of my life in Khayelitsha. My life has been very complicated and I have gone back and forth between living in Hermanus and here.
On How He Got Involved with GRS: I got involved with Grassroot Soccer at my high school. There are Coaches from here (Football for Hope Centre) that come into my class every day where they give us tasks and ask questions about HIV and AIDS, sex, and other topics.
On Living in Khayelitsha: In Khayelitsha, you face challenges such as smoking, gangsterism, and all of those bad things caused by peer pressure. But…Grassroot Soccer keeps me off the streets and busy after school…My family are supportive of me in joining as a participant because it’s something to keep me off the streets.
On What He’s Learned from GRS: With Grassroot Soccer, they tell us information such as about multiple sexual partners. You have a higher chance of contracting HIV if you have multiple sexual partners and having sex with all the partners. Because the person or you don’t have much experience and you don’t know what that person was doing. You just go and have sex, which can lead to bad things.
My favorite experience so far with the Gen SKILLZ programme is Risk Field. In Risk Field, the Coaches demonstrated to us about the different risks that can lead to spreading HIV.
On Girls Playing Soccer: Girls playing soccer is a very good thing because some people undermine girls. They say that girls shouldn’t play sports but they should instead wash dishes and do other chores around the house. Girls should be able to play soccer and I don’t see it as a bad idea. To give others the chance to experience playing sports is great.
On Girl Player Stereotypes: Some people won’t have good minds to think better about other people. They only want to think better about themselves. But I don’t see the stereotypes about girls who play soccer as true.
On His Future Plans: Since I enjoy Grassroot Soccer, I want to follow the Generation SKILLZ programme and other GRS programmes until I graduate from high school. My career goal after finishing school is to either become an airline pilot or an astronaut.