Prince Edward High School Football Academy’s soccer star Antonio Bill (18) dedicates his successful football career to the Zimbabwe Community Health Intervention Research (ZiCHIRe)’s Brotha2Brotha sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) programmes.
In an interview with Spiked Online Media during a soccer tournament held at the Dzivarasekwa Stadium in Harare on 24 December 2020, Bill said Brotha2Brotha opened opportunities for him to sharpen his footballing skills by exposing him to ample training time with other fine players from residential suburbs around Harare.
“Apart from sharpening my soccer skills, Brotha2Brotha teaches us discipline. We are also taught about the advantages of staying away from drugs and alcohol, as well as the dangers of engaging in sex at a tender age that may result in unwanted pregnancies, and other sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, syphilis and gonorrhoea,” Bill said.
Through playing for the Prince Edward Academy and in the ZiCHIRe Brotha2Brotha tournaments, Bill was identified by Zimbabwe’s top coaches – Tonderai Ndiraya, Innocent Chogugudza and Nesbert Saruchera.
He was called to play in the Zimbabwe Young Warriors team that travelled to South Africa for the Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) zonal qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers where he emerged as the best winger.
Ryan Josiah (16) is another player who is also a member of Brotha2Brotha who carved his career from a tender age of 9 while doing Grade 4 at Alfred Beit Primary School in Harare.
Josiah said he was the Brotha2Brotha’s Under-13 Tournament top goal-scorer in 2017. In the same year, he participated in the Nelson Chamisa Tournament where he was awarded a trophy for best youngest player. The following year, he assisted the Dzivarasekwa Soccer Academy to emerge as the first runner-up in the Brotha2Brotha Tournament. In 2018, the same team was the best in the Harare Junior League Elites.
“In the Obey Kadewere Tournament in 2018, our team were the second runner-up and I was the top goal-scorer. We went on to be the Brotha2Brother second runner-ups in December 2019 where I was the best player of the tournament. This opened up opportunities for me to be called by top-flight soccer league teams that include Cranborne Bullets and Ngezi Platinum among others,” Josiah added.
Wonder Kapinda (32), the Coach of the Dzivarasekwa Football Academy said as a Brotha2Brotha mentor, he takes the opportunity for football taining and matches to teach players about sexual reproductive health rights where the focus will be on the prevention of HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
“We also teach drug adherence to club members who are HIV positive. Club members can cascade the same knowledge to family members, schoolmates and church members because they are acting as para-professionals on SRHR,” Kapinda said.
Obey Mukorera, ZiCHIRe Programmes Manager, said Brotha2Brotha also teaches about the prevention of gender-based violence.
“The halmark of Brotha2Brotha programme is to raise a refined youth capable of safeguarding himself against STIs and the transmission of HIV. The youths are also encouraged to refrain from drugs and substance abuse – a key driver in the transmission of HIV and AIDS,” Mukorera said.
Walter Chikanya, the Director of ZiCHRe, said these efforts are supported by the Dutch Embassy and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with a view of addressing gender-based violence and advocating for SRHR.
“These programmes build responsible boys and young men who respect their female counterparts and shun gender-based violence, alcohol and drug abuse. We also encourage them to take household chores. The Brotha2Brotha also helps boys from remote, rural areas to connect with national teams and other players in urban areas,” Chikanya added.