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The model of playing tennis is an underrated look at life. You send the ball to your opponent (serving) and they keep sending it back to you. To win points, you need to watch closely every move your opponent makes and switch up your serving technique, because like you, they are very alert. However, if you consistently keep going and always invent new ways to serve, you are likely to win.

Let’s apply this theory to life. Your challenges are your opponent and never will they stop coming at you. In response, to get on top of them, you have to be fearless but more importantly, you can’t use the same approach. You have to try out new things for the best results. This is why when the US Mission announced the Arthur Ashe Tennis Project, we were very excited.

Prior to this project, interventions in sport had been centered around football, Uganda’s most famed sport. There was a breath of freshness when Tennis came into the equation, and we were glad to be official partners, alongside Tartan Burners Athletic Club and Uganda Tennis Association. The fact that the project was named after Arthur Ashe, the only African American to win the US Open and someone who lived with and advocated against HIV/AIDS, added an extra spice.

The project started with clinics all over the country in Hoima, Arua, Gulu, Jinja and Kalangala in 2019. Here, young people aged 13-18 got to learn the basics of playing tennis, interacting with one another and getting free testing and HIV/AIDS awareness on topics like adherence and drug uptake. To the latter, they were joined by the then reigning Miss Y+ Vivian Nabanoba, who noted that it was a good learning moment seeing young people excited about the new venture.

“The best time to teach a young person something is when they are eager to learn. The participants were very interested in learning about tennis and it was a great opportunity to share with them information on HIV/AIDS. The uptake was remarkable” Vivian narrated her experience.

The finale was held on 22nd February at Lugogo Sports Complex, with an event that hosted some of the biggest names in the sports and advocacy fields, including Country Director of UNAIDS Dr. Karusa Kiragu, Maggie Kigozi, musical ambassador and rapper Navio, to mention but a few. We are proud of the new steps taken towards fighting against HIV, and we look forward to yet another edition of the Arthur Ashe Tennis Program.

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