On the occasion of last fall’s FIFA Men’s World Cup, Grassroot Soccer debuted a new soccer-based adolescent health resource: the World Cup SKILLZ Magazine. The Magazine, which was created with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a fun, interactive, and World Cup-themed resource that includes vital information and learning exercises around several critical health topics for young people, including mental health, gender equality, and COVID-19. The Magazine features Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with soccer superstars Didier DrogbaNadia Nadim, and Michael Essien.

GRS Coaches are distributing 10,000 Magazines to young people in Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, and Nigeria. A group of SKILLZ participants in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe recently shared what the Magazine has meant to them, and the vital life lessons and health information they’ve gleaned from it. (All photos by Praise Dlakama.)

Nonhlanhla, 18

“I got to that level of self-actualization of my dreams. I got the opportunity to set my goals that I must achieve. I now have that vision to see where I want to go, not where I am right now. This Magazine is an important tool and it inspired me a lot. ” 

Yolanda, 16

“I got to understand the importance of respecting my body as a girl. Rushing into things like sex is a bad choice. Girls need such information so that they respect and value their bodies.” 

Simphiwe, 17

“I learned from the Magazine that if I am depressed, the breathing exercises can be helpful to calm me down and to help me think clearly.” 

Perstanance, 16

I feel empowered. I got to understand gender equality better. Boys and girls should be treated equally. No one is superior. I am good enough to achieve my goals as a girl and I am now proud of myself.”

Calvin, 18

“Gender inequality in my community is a big problem. Most boys think that girls should stay in the kitchen and raise babies but from this Magazine, I realized the importance of empowering women and making sure that their voices are heard.”

Letticia, 17

“It is very important to have strong supporters that will stand by me to achieve my goals. My team should consist of people that will support me in good and bad times. I now know that I need the right people in my circle, who will help me whenever I need assistance as a young person.”

Christopher, 16

“COVID-19 had a negative impact in my life. My school work was affected due to the lockdowns and I lost loved ones. I wouldn’t want to go back to the lockdown days. So I learned about the effectiveness of vaccines and why we should get vaccinated. It is also important for us to properly wear masks, sanitize, and self-isolate when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.”

Cinderella, 17

“We should not get information from unreliable sources on facts about COVID-19. So now that I have gained this knowledge and all these facts about COVID-19, I must ‘make a move’ to go around my community to dispel myths and misconceptions about COVID-19.”