US soccer star Tobin Heath displays her soccer skills in Khayelitsha. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
US soccer star Tobin Heath displays her soccer skills in Khayelitsha. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

US soccer stars take part in Khayelitsha tournament

By Staff Writer Time of article published Nov 19, 2019

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Cape Town – US women’s national soccer team stars Christen Press and Tobin Heath spent the day in Harare, Khayelitsha, yesterday, where they participated in a special football tournament for youths.

The tournament, at the Fifa Football for Hope Centre, was an initiative of Grassroot Soccer’s Equalise! Project, supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation.

The tournament highlighted improved sexual and reproductive health and rights among adolescent boys and young men in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Press said she has been with Grassroot Soccer since 2014 and felt blessed to work with an organisation like it.

“I got to come to Khayelitsha for the first time in 2015 after we won the World Cup, and I promised that if we won again I would come back.

“I loved it so much when I visited in 2015 because of the people I met. It’s a special place,” Press said.

Grassroot Soccer spokesperson Molly McHugh said young people faced a significant burden of SRHR-related morbidity and mortality, including HIV infection, early/unplanned pregnancy and gender-based violence (GBV).

“While this burden disproportionately impacts women and girls, harmful gender norms and practices drive these negative outcomes, and high rates of GBV contribute to poor health outcomes” McHugh said.

Research however showed how important notions of gender are in shaping health and healthier relationships, said McHugh.

“Improving the health of all adolescents requires engaging adolescent girls and young women, as well as adolescent boys and young men, to be a part of the solution - and the Equalise!

‘‘Project is one way that adolescent health organisation Grassroot Soccer is reaching young people and seeking to change harmful gender norms,” said McHugh.

Yesterday’s tournament was hosted to leverage the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilise youth to overcome their greatest health challenges, and live healthier, more productive lives.

Press serves as a global board member and ambassador for Grassroot Soccer, and Heath has supported the organisation at prior events.

Since their World Cup victory, the two US members have become leading advocates for gender equality.

While in South Africa, Press and Heath will also participate in Grassroot Soccer’s adolescent health and life skills activities, where they will meet with community representatives and work with youth to discuss topics including gender equality, violence and HIV prevention, and access to health services.

“Press and Heath’s participation is sure to inspire the next generation of change makers.

“We hope you will join us to spread their important message with more youth across South Africa,” said McHugh.

Cape Times

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