Eswatini has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, with 28% of the population infected. SKRUM’s mission is to reduce these figures and offer hope to the youth of Eswatini. SKRUM uses the game of rugby to engage children and, at the same time, educate them about HIV/AIDS, inspire better leadership in communities, raise awareness of gender violence, and promote the benefits of school and education. Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and figures for HIV/AIDS infection have recently started to fall. 

Since 2008, SKRUM has visited over 650 of the 817 schools in Swaziland, reaching around 12,000 young Swazis through school and community coaching sessions each year. SKRUM introduces them to rugby and takes the opportunity to educate them in HIV/AIDS, gender violence, and the social skills necessary for healthy and responsible living, using the slogan Pass The Ball, Not The Virus. SKRUM also provides dedicated classroom sessions, explicitly reinforcing the crucial HIV/AIDS message. During weekends and school holidays, SKRUM runs rugby sessions and tournaments in local communities, reaching out to adults as well as children.

The Atlas Foundation has been able to fully fund a local coach each year. Our coaches can each reach over 4,000 children a year, with both classroom presentations and rugby coaching sessions.

A student that has benefitted from SKRUM's programme said: "After SKRUM talked to us I realised the importance of completing my education and giving myself a better chance in life.  They have made me realise that I can change my life"

Girly's Story

Girly was brought up in the town of Malkerns and attends Mphetseni Primary School. During a SKRUM coaching session at the school, Girly got herself noticed by the natural rugby skills she showed on the field. She was keen to play more rugby so we introduced her to her local club and she attended community rugby sessions with SKRUM. Girly’s passion for the game was obvious, however she also showed an interest in coaching others and developing skills which may help her after leaving school. SKRUM offered Girly the opportunity to do work experience with our team during school holidays to learn from the SKRUM coaches. During her time with SKRUM, Girly learnt the importance of education and is now finishing her schooling with a career in coaching planned. SKRUM helped Girly to develop a number of useful skills to help her with her career and beyond. This includes educating Girly about female health and hygiene, the importance of supporting one another in the community, encouraging her to speak out and ask questions as well as improving conversational language in both English and SiSwati.