The Program provides HIV/AIDS education and awareness, in honour of fallen African American tennis player, Arthur Ashe, the first and only African American male to win the U.S Open and Wimbledon singles titles. Ashe learned in 1988 that he had contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion and became an HIV/AIDS activist. He died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia.
250 Ugandan youths have completed
a program designed to empower youth through the sport of tennis while also
providing HIV/AIDS education.
Dubbed the Arthur Ashe Tennis
Program, the initiative was implemented by the U.S. Mission in partnership with
the Tartan Burners Athletic Club, the Uganda Tennis Association (UTA), and the
Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV&AIDS (UNYPA).
The Program provides HIV/AIDS education
and awareness, in honour of fallen African American tennis player, Arthur Ashe, the
first and only African American male to win the U.S Open and Wimbledon singles
titles. Ashe was the world number 1 tennis player in 1968.
Ashe learned in 1988 that he had
contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion and became an HIV/AIDS activist. He
started the Ashe Arthur Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. In 1993, Ashe died
of AIDS-related pneumonia.
The US Embassy holds the youth
tennis program annually to honour his legacy of "fighting for racial
equality and HIV awareness. The program sponsored
tennis clinics and HIV/AIDS education in Hoima, Gulu, Arua, Jinja and Fort
Portal, where Tennis instructors teach tennis skills to the youth aged 13-18,
and Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV&AIDS holds sessions on
This climaxed with a Grand Finale
at the Lugogo Tennis Court in Kampala, where the US mission organized a youth
tournament final and exhibition doubles match between Uganda and USA players on
Christopher Krafft, the Deputy
Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala explains that the Mission
launched the Arthur Ashe Tennis Program to coincide with the US celebration of
Black History Month, a period to commemorate the contribution of various
African Americans in various disciplines.
Krafft says that HIV is still a
significant health problem and that everyone must take personal responsibility
to reduce the spread of the disease. It is estimated that 1.4 million Ugandans are
living with HIV.
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Some of the youths who attended
the grand finale of the program told Uganda Radio Network-URN that the program
was empowering and that they are prepared to lead campaigns for an AIDS-free
Jovas Natukunda and Karen Namatovu
lauded the US Mission for sponsoring the program while Reagan Odongkara, who is
a student of Gulu High School says that he will encourage his peers to abstain or
use condoms in order to avoid HIV infections.
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During the event, Moses Nsubuga
alias Supercharger shared his journey, loving with HIV and leading a positive,
inspirational life since 1994.
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Meanwhile, one Shakira, a young
girl born with HIV asked youths to take charge of their lives by living
responsibly. She says that much as they encourage infected persons to take
their medication among other tips, it is best not to contract the virus.
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Phil Dimon, the Spokesperson of
the US Mission says that he hopes that the program will be held annually and
also spread beyond five districts in the near future. He however says that the
continuity of the program will depend on the availability of funds.
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The US Mission allocated 92
million Shillings for the inaugural Arthur Ashe Tennis program which catered
for the tennis clinics and activities for the grand finale.