A team effort: Coaching adolescent boys on the importance of respecting women and girls

December 8, 2021
In Zimbabwe, a CBIM coach mentors young athletes. Credit: WorldVision CBIM Scale Up Semi Annual Report 2021

Life at home and at school for Burki, an adolescent boy from Kenya, used to be contentious. He would often show a lack of respect for his parents and teachers and, according to his mother, toward women in particular. Burki would come home late after school, neglect to do his homework, and quarrel with his sister. His disruptive behavior caused his mother great concern. In search of a resolution, she reached out to his soccer coach at school, who advised that Burki join the Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) program.

Since 2020, the USAID-funded ACHIEVE Project, led by Pact and in collaboration with World Vision and Futures Without Violence, have implemented the violence prevention program, CBIM, in Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Through CBIM, athletic coaches are trained to serve as mentors to their young athletes, adolescent boys between the ages of 9-14 years old, on the importance of developing healthy masculinity and respectful, nonviolent relationships. This includes identifying what constitutes abusive behavior, increasing positive attitudes that promote gender equity, developing a greater ability to intervene when abusive behavior is witnessed and decreasing abuse perpetration. Furthermore, the program’s aim is to increase discipline, cooperation, and integrity through sports to mitigate violence against children (particularly girls), ultimately reducing the risk of HIV infection among adolescent girls who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing violence.

In each country, ACHIEVE identified coaches based on their current role in adolescent boys’ lives, their knowledge of football or sports as a medium for mentoring adolescent boys, and their willingness to be consistent and positive role models for young boys. The coaches were then trained on how to deliver the CBIM sessions to adolescent boys with continued monitoring and support by Master Trainers and other staff after implementation of the curriculum.

“I had a lot of challenges when dealing with the youth,” said Deenis, a CBIM Coach. “It was hard for the youth to adapt and know their role in their community. Through CBIM, they now understand what they are supposed to do. I am a good example to them, and what I teach them reflects back on me.”

In many respects, the outcomes of CBIM have proven to be life-changing. The young athletes have developed better relationships at home, in school, and in their communities. Furthermore, they have learned to show greater respect toward girls, their teachers, parents, guardians, and peers as well as serve as role models to other members of their community.

Following Burki’s participation in CBIM, he comes home earlier, does tasks around the house, and serves as a positive role model for his sister, who he now treats better. His mother is feeling more positive about the family’s future.

“From what we have been taught in CBIM, I see myself turning into a man who respects his parents, women and elders,” said Burki. “I believe I will be a better man.”

Through CBIM, adolescent boys are better equipped to take ownership of their actions and demonstrate what it means to treat others with empathy and respect. By continuing to build healthy relationships and adopting a positive mindset, adolescent boys will be emboldened to challenge social norms and create a safe and inclusive community.   

ACHIEVE – Adolescents and Children HIV Incidence Reduction, Empowerment and Virus Elimination – is a five-year global effort to reach and sustain HIV epidemic control among pregnant and breastfeeding women, adolescents, infants, and children. The project is implemented by a Pact-led consortium of  global HIV/AIDS leaders, including Jhpiego, Palladium, No Means No Worldwide, and WI-HER.