On Thursday 21st November, ahead of World AIDS Day, a number of stars will be attending a fundraising gala in London for international football charity, Grassroot Soccer. Big names include its ambassador, Global Board member, and two-time World Cup champion, Christen Press, English football legend Rio Ferdinand, two-time World Cup champion, Tobin Heath, alongside other well-known public figures, such as BT Sport presenter George Lamb. The international adolescent health charity has used football as a platform to provide over 2 million young people in 50 countries with the health information, access to health services, and mentorship they need to face their greatest health challenges, including one of the greatest health challenges in Africa: AIDS.
To raise money for the organisation a live auction will take place with prizes including an owners box game-day experience at an AC Milan match and an exclusive African safari experience incorporating an immersion in to the charity’s programming, and a Stella McCartney styling and Paris fashion show experience, among others. Manchester United fans will no doubt be excited to bid on an exclusive chance to match up against members of the Class of ’92 while being coached by Sir Alex Ferguson.
In addition, prizes donated by sports clubs, private firms, and generous individuals will be available to the highest bidder during a silent auction. These standout items include VIP tickets to a show and meet-and-greet with the band Keane, signed World Cup jerseys from US Women’s National Soccer Team stars, Christen Press and Tobin Heath. a Strictly Come Dancing VIP experience, and Diamond Club tickets to an Arsenal match at Emirates Stadium, among others.
The funds raised on the night will be spent on a range of unique football-based health education programmes in southern Africa. These include programmes that educate both girls and boys on equal gender norms. Young people living in southern Africa face significant health challenges, including HIV infection, early/unplanned pregnancy, and gender-based violence. While the burden of disease disproportionately impacts women and girls, harmful gender norms and practices drive these negative outcomes. High rates of gender-based violence in these countries contribute to poor health outcomes and a lack of control for adolescent girls over their health and rights. Research continues to show how important notions of gender are in shaping health and healthier relationships. Improving the health of boys and girls will require engaging both adolescent girls and young women as well as adolescent boys and young men to be a part of the solution.
Dr. Tommy Clark, Founder and CEO of Grassroot Soccer said: “Our football-based health education programmes meet youth on the front lines as they confront and overcome their greatest health challenges, including stopping the spread of HIV in its tracks – with the ultimate goal of ending the AIDS epidemic. We are incredibly grateful for the support of the football, business, philanthropic and media communities, for coming together for this event.”