Location and general information
Football is often used to promote sexual and reproductive health in low- and middle-income countries. In fact, the Liverpool Football Club Foundation (LFC Foundation) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) are in the second year of their 2.5-year Health Goals Malawi project. The project’s initial goal was to reduce the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) among teenage boys and young men in Malawi.
They have decided to run a similar project in disadvantaged areas of Liverpool because the city has the second-highest rate of new STI diagnoses in northwest England. Rates of early pregnancy are also higher than the national average. There is a strong correlation between early pregnancy and socio‑economic deprivation. Teenage pregnancy can be both a cause and a consequence of health and education inequalities. High-quality relationship and sex education is therefore crucial to address such inequalities.
The main drivers of these inequalities are:
- Persistent school absence before year 9 (pupils aged 13 and 14)
- Relatively slow academic progress
Football is used for three reasons:
- The strength of the Liverpool FC brand in the city engages these socially vulnerable children aged 11 to 16.
- As football is the most popular sport in Liverpool, participants will be highly motivated to attend in order to develop their skills.
- Football drills and games can lead to discussions about key topics.
The project will focus on:
- relationship and sex education programmes in schools and colleges, with targeted prevention for at-risk youngsters of both sexes
- training on relationships and sexual health for health and non-health professionals, e.g. sports coaches
- using the influence of community sports coaches and the LFC Foundation brand to engage young people, emphasising the importance of positive male and female role models
- developing an innovative method of delivering relationship and sex education, with a particular emphasis on overcoming health and educational inequalities by reaching out to the most at-risk young people
A clear and comprehensive curriculum will be developed with coaching materials and resources. If this project is successful, the curriculum will be integrated into the day-to-day work of the LFC Foundation with schools throughout Liverpool.
If this approach proves to be effective, the teen pregnancy rate could be reduced.
- Six weeks of football training and coaching provided in different schools
- Football tournaments
- Project evaluation with the children and coaches involved
- Annual survey of participants
Some 300 children aged 11 to 16 years, 50% of whom are to be girls, are to take part in project activities. The participants will include children with disabilities and poor mental health.