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California: Grassfooting With Soccer

May 31, 2012

Andrew Carrillo aims to turn his longtime love of soccer into an opportunity to teach the game as well as raise AIDS awareness in Africa: The University of the Pacific (UOP) graduate has applied for a year-long internship with Grassroot Soccer. The organization was founded 10 years ago by a former professional soccer player from Zimbabwe in response to the impact of HIV/AIDS in his homeland.

"Grassroot Soccer ... focuses on building basic life skills that help both boys and girls adopt healthy behaviors and live risk-free," said Carrillo.

The program uses soccer clinics to educate youths ages 12 to 18 about HIV. For example, when youths dribble soccer balls through cones, "at each cone there are stations with facts about the disease or the virus and information displayed that you can use to protect yourself to be safe and abstain from [risky] behavior," said Carrillo.

Carrillo formed a soccer tournament at UOP to raise money for Grassroot Soccer; 75 players took part; and in solidarity with those who did not have cleats, everyone was required to play barefoot.

"Their goal with the program is to produce an AIDS-free generation, whether that takes another 10 years or another 30 years," Carrillo said. "Their primary focus is Africa; however they have expanded to Guatemala and the Dominican Republic," said Carrillo, who plans to earn a master's degree in sociology and pursue family therapy counseling.

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Excerpted from:
San Jose Mercury News
05.29.2012; Horace Hinshaw

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