(Washington, DC – August 25, 2010)  Nike and Ashoka’s Changemakers today announced the three global winners and three regional winners in the Changing Lives Through Football competition.  The six winners were chosen among nearly 300 entries that proposed innovative solutions to use football (“soccer” in the United States) to strengthen community, accelerate development and drive social change.

Grassroot Soccer is one of three regional prize winners for it’s innovative Skillz Street program.  Skillz Street combines a powerful HIV prevention and life skills curriculum (Generation Skillz) with an all-girls street soccer league emphasizing fair-play, teamwork, and community engagement. The intiative addresses the major social norms fueling South Africa’s HIV epidemic: Intergenerational/Transactional Sex, Multiple Sexual Partner, Alcohol Abuse, and Gender Based Violence.

Grassroot Soccer has been honored for the outstanding demonstration of innovation, social impact, and sustainability, resulting in a cash prize of US$ 10,000.  In addition, GRS will be featured on Changemakers.com as one of the best ideas for using football to unleash the potential of young people, strengthen their communities, and increase development.

“Nike has always believed that sport enables human potential, allowing new leaders to emerge on the playing field of sport or life,” said Andrew Ogilvie, Nike’s Director of Sustainable Business and Innovation.  “We were inspired by the ways that football is creating change, through initiatives as diverse as the reduction of stigma of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, creating a safe environment for youth in Guatemala, and providing life skills for displaced youth in Bolivia.”   

The Changemakers online community voted for the winners out of a group of twelve finalists recognized for their innovative approaches that demonstrate how football can unleash the potential of young people, strengthen communities, boost development, and affect change.  The six winners will receive a total of US $90,000 in prizes. 

“As we saw in this year’s World Cup tournament in Africa, football is the sport that unites the world,” said Sushmita Ghosh, founder of Changemakers and Ashoka’s president emeritus.  “Football initiatives are empowering youth globally, through programs that promote gender equity in Rwanda, or that prevent violence and extremism in Iraq, by bringing together young people from different ethnic, religious, and social backgrounds.  This competition has demonstrated that football truly does create social change.”

To read more about the competition, the winners, and Skillz Street click here.