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Harry calls for HIV awareness visits to young by African Premier League players

Prince Harry has suggested African Premier League football stars should use their popularity to help fight the Aids problem among their young fans back home.

On the eve of World Aids Day Harry visited one of South Africa's most dangerous townships to learn about projects using football to educate youngsters against the deadly virus.

Details of Harry's visit to Khayelitsha Township were not released until the Prince had left the area.

It is notorious as the place where the body of honeymoon murder victim Anni Dewani was found and where two of those convicted for their part in her killing were from.

The prince sat down with a group of female coaches from Grassroots Soccer - an organisation that uses football to teach youngsters important issues surrounding HIV, in order to keep them free of the disease.

Harry told them: "The younger kids are so obsessed with football if the player of their dreams - even better if it's an African player - came and spoke positively about HIV or whatever it is, that would make a huge difference.

"You guys all look up to these people, they're idolised."

Instances of HIV are dropping in every age category in South Africa except adolescents where there is a growing concern the message about the dangers of unprotected sex, multiple partners and the need to take medication when diagnosed, is not getting across.

In a lighter moment during Harry's visit to the Football for Hope Centre, where the organisation Grassroots Soccer works, a little girl took his hand and would not let go.

Sinentlantla Jacobs aged four had been running around playing with guests and took Harry's hand and that of Sian Price from the British High Commission.

The two adults swung the little girl into the air as they held on to her hand, much to the child's delight.

Harry later joined a group of primary school children on an artificial pitch for a football lesson that got them thinking about issues around HIV.

First he walked over to their coaches being put through their paces by head trainer Wonderboy Sibiya, whose name made Harry declare: "You better be bloody good at football - you have the name."

He joined one of two teams competing to finish a jigsaw puzzle of cut-up words that completed the acronym Smiles - safe, maximum participation, inclusive, learning, enjoyment, success.

Harry's team lost but he soon joined one of four teams of children set the task of dribbling balls around cones that represented wrong life choices about sexual health and HIV.

If they touched a cone, first they would have to do a star jump, then later their team and then finally everyone had to jump.

The prince encouraged his team-mates and listened intently as a coach talked about the consequences of making the wrong choices and how that would effect not just the individual but their family and community.

He performed star jumps when cones were touched and joked with the youngsters who were getting static electric shocks from the artificial grass.


From Belfast Telegraph