“Don’t Play Lets Substitute”
The Torchbearer of FUZ
- To use Footballers' ‘celebrity’ status in mobilising the population to achieve behaviour change around HIV/Aids
- To demonstrate the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe’s commitment towards fighting the disease
- To mobilise resources for FUZ’s HIV/Aids projects
- To work with like minded Organisations by forming partnerships in assisting those infected and affected by the disease
The Footballers Union of Zimbabwe [FUZ] has noted that Footballers have not been targeted by any Gender and/or Sexual Reproductive Health related programmes and thus it is our aim to provide the guidance and counselling services and be a referral point for pre and post HIV/Aids testing for the players. The Union intends to equip players with knowledge and skills to protect themselves and be a source of information on HIV/Aids to the general population. Their celebrity status in the communities they live will easily make what they teach about the deadly disease be accepted and applied by the multitudes of their supporters. The acquired skills on HIV/Aids will benefit current and future players as they will continue to participate in football business as trainers or officials when they retire.
As players start to educate fellow players and the general population on HIV/Aids, the myth associated with discussing the killer disease will be removed and the subject will be freely discussed. This discussion will assist those infected and affected by the disease to come out in the open and talk about their status resulting in numerous people wanting to know their status. This will result in informed decisions being made and proper steps being taken when deciding to have a family. Families will be started on a solid foundation as the two partners in marriage will have examined their status and taken informed decisions regarding their HIV/Aids status.
The negative economic, social and financial situation in our country has heavily exposed our Footballers to have multiple sexual partners because of the idol status associated with footballers and the frequent availability of funds through weekly match bonuses and allowances. Players have been an easy prey for the opposite sex as they are easily identified and their low levels of education and sometimes ignorance on the HIV/Aids pandemic has left them seriously exposed to the deadly disease and other diseases that affect their reproductive system. Players enjoy the ‘celebrity’ status which makes them the most easily targeted sexually active group. Most of the time players are separated from their spouses due to the nature of their football career and as such, this high level of mobility leaves them vulnerable as they meet many different members of the opposite sex, who look up to them as their celebrities, hard to resist. Because of the lack of proper guidance and knowledge, many fall prey into this trap leaving them susceptible to infections.
“Don’t Play Lets Substitute” is the torchbearer of the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ). FUZ, through this program aims to equip its members with skills to reach out to fellow footballers and the general population on the need to avoid the deadly disease, being tested for HIV status and removing the myth associated with freely and honestly discussing HIV/Aids. The celebrity status associated with footballers in their communities will impact positively on the free discussion of the pandemic when footballers start openly talking about it. FUZ wants “Don’t Play Lets Substitute” to be used as a leading campaigning tool in educating the general population on the need to practise safe sex and ultimately sticking to one partner.
This project shows the willingness of Footballers to unlock the secrecy on HIV/Aids discussion, testing and working with like minded Organisations in promoting National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS. FUZ is willing to assist in ensuring that Zimbabwe is a country with a citizenry free to discuss and apply interventionist strategies towards combating the deadly disease. “Don’t Play Lets Substitute” will show our commitment in promoting a healthy nation.
- Behaviour change by players and the general population
- An excellent opportunity for corporate social investment
- Free discussion on the HIV and Aids pandemic