Grassroot Soccer is uniquely positioned to address the adolescent health gap, combining the appeal of soccer with a rigorous, evidence-based approach. Our involvement in research keeps the perspectives and needs of participants at the forefront, and ensures that intentional, adolescent-centered design is the core of our approach. The 2017-2018 research report summarizes some of our completed research activities to date. Among this research, the report includes several studies presented for the first time at the 2018 International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Amsterdam.
Since Grassroot Soccer’s founding in 2002, research has been vital to our organizational growth and development. Research and innovation shape our curriculum development, monitoring and evaluation processes, and organizational strategy. This report examines our sport and sexuality education programs for adolescent girls in South Africa, also expanded throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with broader literature complemented by unique insights and recommendations from our work. Grassroot Soccer learns by evaluating our work scientifically, and we have seen that the process of engaging adolescent girls in a well-designed, sport-based, inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) program can be gender transformative, and results in a range of positive outcomes for girls and their broader communities.
This study out of Nigeria from Grassroot Soccer (GRS) and Youth Education Development Initiative (YEDI), in collaboration with Laureus Sport for Good, shows that soccer is a promising tool that can shift the attitudes and behaviors of adolescent boys and young men around health and gender equality. Engaging males on gender and power is a critical step towards preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence that compromises health-seeking behavior and drives poor health outcomes in adolescent girls and boys.