SKILLZ Girl participants in Zimbabwe

The reflections below are from a high school participant named Faith on her experience in a girls-focused Grassroot Soccer SKILLZ program in Mutare, Zimbabwe. With the support of the American people through USAID and funded by PEPFAR, Grassroot Soccer (GRS) supports vulnerable adolescent girls and young women through the DREAMS initiative. As part of the Adolescent Girls and Young Women Health for Life 360 project under FHI 360, GRS Zimbabwe is committed to primary prevention of sexual violence and HIV.

The SKILLZ Girl program really inspired me as a young girl. The way it shed light in the ways we should live, behave and act out as girls caught my attention and it motivated me. During this experience there were so many activities that were discussed and I would want to explain what I learnt because it changed my life completely. The very first activity among others that I understood was that of sex and gender. I came to realize that gender roles could be changed. As females we have been taken advantage of because of what society says but this program has taught me that any gender role can be changed.

The activity that motivated me was that of healthy and unhealthy relationships. This means that it should be healthy physically, socially, and verbally. The key terms showed me that if it’s a healthy relationship then certain factors should be considered. These factors include love, respect for each other, and stating and sharing ideas. I discovered that one shouldn’t suffer in silence for the sake of pleasing the person you share a relationship with but rather should be free to say how they feel about certain things. The use of threats or harmful words are not considered healthy but rather if you face a problem you should discuss it over in a respectable manner thereby making each other feel important, considered, needed, and comfortable to share opinions.

The other activities that I learnt were on the different types of abuse, and the activity called “I am beautiful.” I came to realize that I am special, unique, and beautiful. I have seen that I should not consider my feelings alone but have respect for other girls and how they feel. I also discovered that my choices are important. What I want in life has to be decided by me because other people may make the wrong decisions for me, which could affect my future for years to come. I was encouraged to go and get tested in order for me to know my status and how I can maintain it.

I had so much fun joining other fellow girls my age, playing and communicating together. I am really grateful to my Coach, Rosemary Magaya, for empowering us and shaping us to have a better tomorrow.