I’ve gotten questions recently from a number of PSI’s country platforms on how to incorporate sports into their product promotion and communication activities. Rather than trying to answer myself, I thought I’d pass on a few thoughts from someone with more practical experience in the field: Ousmane Gbane, who manages JHU/CCP’s Sports for Life (SFL) program in Côte d’Ivoire. SFL Côte d’Ivoire recently won an AfriComNet Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS Communication in Africa, for which it was recognized as the best multi-channel communication program of 2008.
What is SFL?
SFL is an HIV prevention program that targets in-and out-of-school youth age 10-14 in Cote d’Ivoire. Launched in August 2006, the program is based on five core activity areas:
- Small group activities using the SFL life skills curriculum;
- Individual reflection using Extra Time, an SFL workbook that is modeled on soccer magazines popular in Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere in Africa;
- Community outreach activities conducted by participating young people (and their SFL “coaches”);
- Mass media programming utilizing local celebrities (including Ivorian soccer star Yaya Gnegnery Toure); and
- Large-scale soccer tournaments between SFL “teams.”
What sets SFL apart from other sport for development programs is its integrated, multi-channel approach, which means that young people are exposed to key program messages through many different channels at the same time. The involvement of celebrity ambassadors is also important, as it helps lend credibility to the program in the eyes of parents, trainers, and private sector partners.