In keeping with our history of evaluation, Grassroot Soccer is collaborating with leading researchers to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of our program in South Africa to assess its effect on incidence of both HIV and HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus). The RCT, also known as the GOAL trial, in which schools are randomly allocated to either receive Grassroot Soccer or standard HIV education, is the first in the field of sport for development. With over 4,500 participants, it will play an important role in informing youth-targeted HIV prevention efforts around the world.

The GOAL trial is a joint collaboration of GRS, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Wits Reproductive Health Institute, and the Institute of Education. The trial is being conducted in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africa, has a timeline of February 2012 to July 2015, and is being funded by the M.A.C. AIDS Fund and Comic Relief.

The objectives of the trial are to assess whether GRS’s Generation Skillz program is effective in reducing incidence of HIV and HSV-2, and to assess the effect of the program on HIV-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Generation Skillz was developed by GRS to target teenagers with interactive sessions that teach about HIV risk behavior while sparking discussion about gender norms.

From February to September of 2011, the research team conducted a pilot study of Generation Skillz to inform the GOAL trial. The results of the pilot, which GRS presented at this year’s International AIDS Conference, were very promising and showed that students had improved their knowledge and attitudes about HIV. Grassroot Soccer looks forward to completing the GOAL trial and informing policy and strategy related to sport-based HIV prevention.