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Grassroot Soccer: SKILLZ Core

Promoting Primary HIV and Violence Prevention and Social Asset Building for Very Young Adolescents

SKILLZ Core is a mixed-gender, rights-based, gender transformative intervention for very young adolescents that considers the profound changes brought about by puberty. It offers positive youth role models, increases self-concept, physical health, and school performance, creates safe space to discuss power dynamics and gender norms, and introduces core sexual and reproductive health topics.

HundrED 2024






Target group
April 2023
"I learnt that my body is mine and I have grown up with this confidence which has equipped me to take care of myself as a girl."

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Grassroot Soccer recognizes that the transformative period from 9-14 years old is a unique moment to create positive relationships between very young adolescents and the health system, shape lifelong health-seeking behaviors, and mitigate factors that put girls and boys at risk of HIV, violence, and other negative health outcomes.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Grassroot Soccer's mixed-gender SKILLZ Core intervention for very young adolescents ages 9-14 is an evidence-based, interactive, social asset building curriculum designed within a rights-based, gender transformative framework and considers the profound changes brought about by puberty. SKILLZ Core is delivered in schools or other community-based settings and is implemented by young adult mentors trained as “Caring Coaches” who facilitate interactive games, physical movement, and learning-by-doing to address core sexual and reproductive health and rights topics including HIV and violence prevention, gender, power dynamics, and future orientation/goal setting.

How has it been spreading?

Grassroot Soccer and its network of more than 60 Implementing Partners have implemented SKILLZ Core in 39 countries, reaching more than 600,000 youth ages 9-14. SKILLZ Core has been employed as a primary HIV and violence prevention intervention for very young adolescents on numerous U.S. Government programs (including through United States Agency for International Development [USAID], Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], and through the Peace Corps), positioning SKILLZ Core for greater scale.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

For more information on Grassroot Soccer and SKILLZ Core:


Or submit an inquiry to

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Grassroot Soccer leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize at-risk youth in developing countries to help them overcome challenges, flourish in life and impact their communities. Social and emotional learning is at the core of this innovation as skills such as self-management, social awareness and relationship skills are developed through sports and play.

HundrED Academy Reviews

The innovation tackles social justice challenges through non-formal education and sports, which is a very insightful approach to involve beneficiaries and develop multiple skills. Its impact potential is very high.

The near universal popularity of soccer leads to a fully scalable innovation that tackles sensitive but ubiquitous health and well-being issues for adolescents by relying on local coaches and mentors.

- Academy member
Academy review results
Read more about our selection process

Spread of the innovation

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