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Soccer: the world's favorite game

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In the soccer fields of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, a provincial soccer star shares how her love of soccer has changed her life and the lives of the kids in her neighborhood.

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Nolusindiso “Titie” Plaatje, the young woman featured in the film, works with an innovative soccer program called Grassroot Soccer. The program educates local youth in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and mobilizes communities around HIV/AIDS prevention.

The founders of Grassroot Soccer believe that the popularity of soccer, or fútbol, can engage hard to reach young people. Their curriculum is based on a ‘Social Learning Theory,’ which includes these three core principles: Kids learn best from people they respect, learning is not a spectator sport, and it takes a village.

Former South African president, Nelson Mandela believed that sports could be used as a tool for social change. In 1995, he united a racially divided South Africa through the the power of rugby. He said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

Read this article in The New York Times: “Nelson Mandela Grasped the Power of Sports.”

See a photo gallery in Time Magazine from the 2010 World Cup, hosted by South Africa.

Sports are incredibly important parts of the social fabrics of our communities and schools. However, until recently, participation was unfairly weighted in favor of males. In 1972, U.S. Congress passed Title IX, a law which prohibited discrimination against women in schools, colleges, and universities -- including school-sponsored sports. Before this law, female athletes were few and far between, and funding was even scarcer. Erin Buzuvis and Kristine Newhall explore the significance and complexity of Title IX.

Football is another common name for soccer. But, football has a few different meanings. To learn more about American football (and some physics to go along with it) check out this TED-Ed Lesson.


Avatar for Cleary Vaughan-Lee
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Point Reyes Station, CA, United States

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