Editor’s note: The following is adapted from a success story originally collected by Dickson Phiri.
Fiona Chisuta is a 19-year-old Grassroot Soccer SKILLZ Coach in Lusaka, Zambia, where HIV prevalence remains high, particularly among adolescent girls. She is enthusiastic and motivated about changing the health narrative for adolescents. Fiona completed secondary school in 2018 and dreams of building a career in international relations.
In 2017, a GRS Coach introduced Fiona to GRS programming at her school. “I never knew about Grassroot Soccer until I was in grade 11,” Fiona recalls. I was inspired to join the SKILLZ team by the Coach that came to my class to introduce the activities. She had a lot of energy and positive vibes, and I was eager to see what more the program offered.”
Reflecting on her time as a GRS Participant, Fiona said, “I enjoyed the interventions from the first practice […] the practices created a safe space, where most girls felt comfortable to talk about issues that they cannot freely talk about with parents or anyone in the community, [including] issues on healthy relationships.”
In 2019, following her experience in the SKILLZ Girl programme, Fiona was motivated to become a GRS Coach and now leads sessions for adolescents from schools within Lusaka. “Knowing that I can inspire other young people gives me the motivation to be a coach; they look up to me to for mentorship and information on HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights.”
When asked about her favorite part of being a GRS Coach, Fiona’s answer comes quickly: “My exciting moments as a coach come during vital conversations and home visits. This is the time I get to know my participants personally and understand them best.”