Sporting activities are part of the curriculum in Malawi primary and secondary schools and many students participate in the disciplines of their liking whether as a hobby, interest, or as competitions where money and pride are always at stake. Although most sports disciplines do not require literacy, introducing them in primary and secondary schools as vehicles for HIV/AIDS prevention messages is like killing two birds with a single stone.
That is, the messages reach to a myriad of people at one go. Recognizing that sports is an important resource in HIV/AIDS prevention messages, Life Concern Organisation with assistance from GIZ has launched an HIV/AIDS prevention project in Bolero, Rumphi through the introduction of minority sports disciplines in primary and secondary schools in the area.
A research conducted by LICO discovered that during sporting activities in schools, many students with potential in other sporting activities are relegated to being football and netball spectators which are the common sports activities in most primary and secondary schools especially in rural areas like Bolero. This makes other students lose interest in the sports and consequently go out and engage themselves in risky immoral behaviours.
Thus through the project LICO is promoting sporting initiatives which are not known to students such as rugby, volleyball, basketball and other indoor games in order to keep all the pupils and other youths busy with sports so that they do not engage themselves in the behaviours which can enable them to contract the HIV virus.
The project has engaged five schools namely Bolero Community Day Secondary School, Barwe, Bolero, Bumba and St Denis primary schools. The project has since already inspired young people to like the sports and discover their skills.
Launching the project recently at Bolero Primary School, LICO Executive Director Peter Gondwe encouraged the youth to avoid engaging in risky behaviours to prevent contracting HIV /AIDS. With a population of about 15 million, Malawi has over 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS.
“Let me take this opportunity to encourage girls to be strong and avoid early pregnancies. You are the managers of your own future, so you have to guard it jealously against immorality which has the potential of ruining your otherwise bright future,” said Gondwe.
The executive director also encouraged the gathering to go for HCT in order to know their HIV status.
During the function, LICO donated balls to all the partner schools in the project.
The ceremony was graced by a friendly match between Barwe and Bolero schools. In football, Bolero edged out Barwe 1 to 0 while in netball it was a reverse trend as Barwe whacked Bolero with 12 baskets to 5.
Mr Mkandawire the Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for the area and headteachers from the partner schools thanked LICO for rolling out the project in their areas saying it will go a long way in reducing immorality and HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the area.
They also expressed gratitude to the organisation for the donation of the balls. They also requested for jerseys for the five school teams in all sports disciplines which they said was a motivation to students.