loveLife, South Africa’s largest national HIV-prevention programme for young people, is encouraging youth to lead healthy lifestyles through the loveLife Games – a nationwide initiative made possible with funding from the Department of Sports and Recreation, writes Thandiwe McCloy.

Over the past 10 years, young South Africans have loved participating in the loveLife Games, where they get the chance to engage in a range of sports and showcase their artistic talents. During the loveLife Games, groundBREAKERs (loveLife peer educators) and Mpintshis (loveLife volunteers who’re managed by groundBREAKERs) also provide empowering life skills, sexual health and motivational information.

Open to in-and-out-of-school youth, “the loveLife Games promote healthy, positive lifestyles among youth and give them a platform to express their talents,” says Andrea Adolph, Head of the loveLife Games. Young participants of the Games can compete in loveLife’s Ultimate Frisbee programme, as well as soccer, netball, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics and track and field events.

They can also engage in loveLife’s Debating, Ultimate Dance and Centre Stage (drama) competitions. Each year, the Games kick off with League Games, which happen countrywide and involve young people from the loveLife Y-Centres (youth centre), loveLife outlets (community centres that offer loveLife programmes) and schools competing in a variety of sports, debating and performing arts activities.

The best performing teams proceed to the Cluster Games, while other teams participate in on-going league games that happen until the end of the year. The Cluster Games take place between July and August, and the top performing teams go on to compete in the District Games, which culminate in the Provincial Games that happen in December. Provincial Games events take place in each province, with trophies and medals being handed to the finest teams and individuals.

Veli Lebakeng (15) from Balfour in Mpumalanga is looking forward to participating in the Provincial Games with his basketball team. “Playing in the loveLife Games has been awesome and I’m proud of my team,” he says. “We’re like a family. We connect with each other and have so much fun.” Organising the loveLife Games to ensure it runs smoothly is no simple task. loveLife Games events are co-ordinated by staff at loveLife’s National Office, groundBREAKERs and Mpintshis as well as Local Organising Committees (LOCs), which are based around the country.

loveLife Games Provincial Programme Coordinators, teachers and sports coaches sit on these committees to share their help and expertise. Together, they work to ensure that each loveLife Games event is a feast of fun and celebration! For more information on when and where the loveLife Games will be hitting your province, contact loveLife’s Youth Line on 0800 121 900. You can also contact the line for information on other loveLife programmes or visit

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