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A Game for Life
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A Game for Life
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Grassroot Soccer uses the "beautiful game" to educate South African youth about HIV/AIDS prevention. The organization's project coordinator, Nolusindiso "Titie" Plaatjie, describes her childhood in the poverty-stricken city of Port Elizabeth and how soccer gave her the drive to be who she is today.

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Produced by the Global Oneness Project.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Global Oneness Project
TITLE
A Game for Life
NOLUSINDISO "TITIE" PLAATJIE
I don't know how I can really put this, but my football is really something that is very powerful in my life, that gives me the drive to be who I am now, and have the goals I have now. Because, I think, if it wasn't for football ... I can't really imagine myself without football. And certain things, certain principles in my life are based on my football. I don't know if you understand what I mean.
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
This is my place. It's a very small place. It's just a four-room house. And this is where we sit as a family, watch TV, have supper, and chat. Just family chats. And I'll show you the kitchen where we cook our meals. This is my kitchen. It's not a very big place but it is where I live, yeah. This is my bedroom; I share it with my aunt, but unfortunately now she is asleep because she was working night shift. This is my bed. I sleep here with my kitten. Oh yes, this is my kitten, and it's my friend. I sleep with her almost every night. This is my aunt. She stays here. She's selling veggies and fruit and her business is definitely going very well. Because in one week you find that you come and buy something and it's finished, it's not there, it's finished. So she's got a business that is doing very well.
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
This road that we are walking on, this is where I started playing soccer when I got to Port Elizabeth. We'd put small stones, there would be goals on each side of the road, then we'd be playing with the guys. That was before there was grass here. There was no grass here, so we would play from that wall to this side of the road. I grew up playing here and when I see this road or when I walk here I always remember where I started playing soccer. Most of the time I was with my other two cousin-brothers, and they would spend most of their time playing soccer and that's how I got on the field and played as well.
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
When I was growing up I was very, very poor, very poor. When I was still in primary school, I would wash with cold water. My school shoes were like, the sole was broken, so when it was raining, my socks would be so wet. In terms of food, there was absolutely nothing to eat. For me to be able to eat at school I would have to wait until when we were writing a test. Then each pupil would put on 10 cents or 20 cents. Then the whole amount would go to the person who was the highest for the test, and that is how I would manage to eat, because, if we were writing a test and we put on some money, it was definitely my money because I was a very good student.
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
I know there are many people out there who are going through what I went through, and I know they won't deal with it the way I dealt with it, because I was just taking every day as it was coming. I never thought of going out and being a prostitute or something, and I know other people who are going through that thing always, not always, but sometimes opt for that if they are girls, and if they are boys, they always go do the armed robbery, bad things like that. So the main reason I always tell the story is just to let them know that poverty cannot conquer you for the rest of your life. You can conquer poverty as well. There is a way that you can go. There is a solution to poverty. We shouldn't always do things that are unethical because we say you are going through poverty. I've never done anything to anyone when I was very poor, but here I am today. I'm not as poor as I was before and for me, now, I don't feel like I'm poor, even though I don't have everything I want. I don't have a big house, I don't have a car, but I still feel that I'm rich because I'm rich inside.
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
This is a very good friend of mine. I grew up playing with him on the street. But he was never a very good soccer player, this one was a very good goalkeeper. [laughter] Come try it. [plays gaming device] I've won. It's my lucky day then. There you go, that's all the money. Soccer helped me to stay away from the option of being a prostitute, you know? It's really because I've have always had love for my football and discipline for my football. Because, if you are going to be doing all the wrong things to try and get something to eat, or money, then definitely those things won't be in line with your football. Because, if you look at soccer, the things you do that are in line with football, they are also in line with your own life. People love soccer, and the young kids out there, they're interested in soccer. If you talk of soccer, I don't know what you're talking about exactly because everyone knows about soccer. So it's easy to reach out to the people through soccer.

Segment 2

NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
Grassroot Soccer, we help the kids to know how to prevent themselves from getting HIV and also to teach them life skills. The elder guys have gone through things in their lives, but would like to teach the kids so that they can not go through those things. The way we would do it is just interactive games. So we don't really say, "Yeah, we're going to talk about HIV now." Then some people might just lose interest with it. But simply because it's interactive, we do the actual activities where they just learn from them. And it's not as if we are telling them what to do, things like abstain and do this. [playing game with children] So why was it not easy to find the ball? Because you couldn't see the ball. Ja. So now remember when we play that game, what did you say? Yes my girl, say it.
STUDENT
Someone who is HIV positive ... someone who has the ball is going to be HIV positive.
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
So what does that tell you about HIV? Ha? You can't see someone who has ...
EVERYONE
HIV. [clapping]
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
Since we work with kids we use the power of soccer, and we use soccer balls because kids love to play. If you just make them play, and especially with our street leagues, the way we do the teaching of HIV and AIDS, then we give them time to play soccer. Those are tools for them to be better people, to stay away from things that could destroy their lives. After we've done the program, we also assess the change in their attitudes. If there's a big difference where their attitudes were before they went through the program, I would be very happy about that.
NOLUSINDISO PLAATJIE
When you've got something in your heart and you also feel, or you also want someone else to sort of, like, have that same feeling, you have to, I don't know ... I don't really know how to say it ... but it's always important to just share things with other people. It's just important. And also, if you know you can do something to help the next person, just do it with all your heart. And not expect to get a reward for it. It really makes more sense to be able to have others help because, really, we cannot live in isolation. Honestly. We could be a unity here, but what about the other people that are not a unity? We are going to say, "yes, we are a unity," that's fine for us. They are not a unity? Then that's it, that's their problem. It shouldn't be like that. If people could unite then, I'm telling you, I don't see anything stopping the world from being a better place. I don't see anything stopping it. It doesn't take much for soccer to get people together. If there's a soccer match somewhere, as long as people know that there's that match somewhere, they will definitely go. It's really easy for it to unite people. For me it's really about passion because I love soccer. I love soccer. It just really ... Even if I can be stressed out about something, when I'm at my training session or at my game, I forget about it. It's just something ... I don't know what to say about soccer, but there's that thing about it, I just don't know what it is.
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Nolusindiso "Titie" Plaatjie is 22 years old and lives in Port Elizabeth South Africa. She studied Human Movement Science at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and dreams of becoming an engineer. Titie is a well-known soccer star, and in 2001, she was named captain of the provincial team. She has been playing soccer since the age of five. Currently working for Grassroots Soccer as the Port Elizabeth Project Coordinator, Titie is a key facilitator in raising HIV/AIDS awareness among youth and people of her community. She believes that this is a fight for the world.
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www.globalonenessproject.org