How Kick4Life is changing lives in Lesotho

Every year on December 1, World AIDS Day is marked as individuals globally unite to show their support for people living and affected by HIV.
Kick4Life, a 2022 Laureus Sport for Good Award nominee, aims to transform the lives of vulnerable young people in Lesotho and their Country Director, Motlatsi Nkhahle explained more about their work.
How does Kick4Life support the children impacted by the prevalence of HIV in Lesotho?
The first thing we have done is to create a safe space. It's a community where every child is free to walk over and be able learn, as well as play football as much as they want. This allows us to build up some level of trust with them so that we can then know what their situation or needs may be.
The work we deliver at Kick4Life is focused around life skills and the development of these. We try to make sure that we help the children by building self-esteem, so that they can develop coping mechanisms to be able to deal with challenges of stigma and discrimination that comes from HIV.
We also try to focus on communication skills because we want them to be able to express themselves and be able to share how they feel. As we do this, we try to ensure we continue to work on delivering HIV protection and education and create a better environment that addresses issues related to HIV such as gender-based violence.
At Kick4Life we run a number of health education programs and newer programmes such as Girls United, which addresses gender inequality, unemployment and a lack of entrepreneurship. We are trying to teach young people to understand their rights and how to uphold them.
We also make sure our children are learning about financial well-being and we have mental health support as we understand that a lot of kids will not have enough of a support network. The Kick4Life Centre aims to be a safe space where they have access to our counsellors, who can then look into addressing some of the issues that can arise from their vulnerable situations.

Our work is interactive and fun, as much as it possibly can be. We feel this is the best way and it encourages the kids to come and participate to the best of their best ability and look at the centre as a positive place to be. We always try to make sure they really want to meet with us and want to talk with us, so we can really listen to their issues.

Motlatsi Nkhahle
What are your long-term hopes for Kick4Life?
The long-term vision is to continue the global movement of using sport for social change. It is important for us that people understand that football is not just a game of entertainment, it can be so much more and can actually change lives.
We want people to understand there are vulnerable individuals out there and that we can use sport to intervene in their lives and really change their life prospects for the better.
South African football legend and Laureus Ambassador, Lucas Radebe, visited Kick4Life in May 2022
How did Lucas Radebe’s visit impact the children?
We have to start with how he inspired us. He was actually here in 2011 to open the centre so for the staff who have been with us since then, they were so happy to reunite with him. For the children, I remember thinking that they have just met a living legend!
It was so awesome, everyone really loved his day and what was so nice was seeing his own amazement (at the work we do). He made every child at the centre so happy and excited, even for those who were born after he stopped his career!
Since being shortlisted for the 2022 Laureus Sport for Good Award, how have things changed and developed for you at Kick4Life?
It really helped us with national and global recognition for the work we do. We felt morally and spiritually supported to continue doing it, considering we had just come out of the pandemic which had been a very difficult period for us.

Globally things became very tough, but here in Lesotho they became even worse. Incidents of gender-based violence went up, incidents of infections went up and a lot of our participants were facing very unfavourable situations. We tried as much as we could during that period to intervene and when the Laureus Sport for Good  nomination came in, we just felt somebody was actually watching the work we do and trying to say keep going.

Motlatsi Nkhahle
The nomination opened up a lot of conversations in terms of partnerships and about how people might be able to partner us and support the work we do. It was a very, very special moment for us

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