Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | WBUR of Boston’s Only a Game lingers with Grassroot Soccer as it employs sport to educate children on sugar-cane plantations in the country’s southwest about HIV/AIDS. Although baseball dominates the domestic sporting scene, reporter Michael Cavanaugh points out that more than 1 million Haitians live in the country and predominate in the sugar-cane industry, living in compounds of small concrete houses; their sport of preference is soccer.
Migration of workers between the conjoined countries contributes to the spread of HIV. To understand risks, children dribble between cones representing dangers such as unprotected sex or prostitution.
“Soccer is life for so many kids,” says Kirk Friedrich, managing director of Grassroot Soccer, which has similar programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ethiopia and the United States. “It breaks down cultural barriers. And when it comes to talking about HIV/AIDS, that can be one of the most important things.”