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  • South African Football Players Union/ PEPFAR/JHHESA

The Task:

Motivate stubborn, at-risk adult men to re-evaluate their risky life behaviours.



Our Role:

A group of ex-professional football players approached Matchboxology in 2007 to help current pro players extend their careers by staying safe in the age of HIV & AIDS.

Football players in Africa are not only the ultimate male role models; they represent the epi-centre of the HIV prevention challenge.

We quickly saw that if we could design a programme that could measurably change pro footballers’ attitudes and behaviours, then as heroes of millions of other men, we could quickly snowball change outwards and start to redefine social norms.

Matchboxology trained a core of ex-professional players to field a deep dive into the attitudes and behaviours of current pro players. The study inspired a psychologist together with behaviour change and public health experts into designing a radically new “Wellness Coach” curriculum.

Matchboxology facilitated ex-professional players through the 12-week curriculum—with monthly coaching over 2 years. Each “Wellness Coach” confronted personal behaviours and attitudes with scientific fact. The curriculum equipped them with a wider body of basic skills; including facilitation expertise, problem solving/stress management techniques, and financial literacy.

Once they themselves had changed, these sports heroes were perfectly placed to guide other men on a journey of self examination and change.


With support from Johns Hopkins Health Education in South Africa, USAID and PEPFAR, the programme was rolled out as a standalone Non-Profit organization in 2010.


To date outreach with football peers has been subsequently expanded to include work in peri-urban townships, community men’s clubs and the military. A prison-specific programme was launched and grows at the request of prisoners.

What the client saw:

  • Innovative Peer Education Programme
  • Facilitation Training
  • Male Oriented Health Communications

What Matchboxology saw:

  • Opportunity to design a robust and Innovative male psyche insight flow
  • Access to the ultimate South African male role models
  • The ideal pilot for a male oriented HIV prevention behavior change campaign
  • A strategic and implementation project



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