#29 Grassroot Soccer, Dr. Thomas Clark

“We’d written 26 grant proposals and had 26 rejections.”


Grassroot Soccer is an adolescent health organisation that leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire and mobilise youth to overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier more productive lives and be agents for change. Grassroot Soccer’s principles are that (i) young people have a vast potential to create meaningful change and play a significant role in overcoming their greatest health challenges, that (ii) soccer is an ideal way to reach, educate and inspire young people in a language they understand and enjoy, and finally that (iii) improving adolescent health, whether it’s eradicating HIV and AIDS, improving sexual and reproductive health services, or addressing gender norms, requires an integrated, collaborative, holistic and community-wide approach.


Dr. Thomas Clark is the founder and CEO of Grassroot Soccer, and also a paediatrician and former professional footballer. Tommy conceived the idea for Grassroot Soccer after living and playing soccer in Zimbabwe. Although born in Scotland he moved to Zimbabwe at age fourteen where his father Bobby Clark was coach of the Highlanders Football Club. Tommy attended Dartmouth College where he was captain of the soccer team. Following graduation, Tommy returned to Zimbabwe to teach English and play professional soccer. He attended Dartmouth Medical School and completed residency in paediatrics at the University of New Mexico, where he was twice named the Resident Teacher of the Year. Following residency, Tommy was a research fellow at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California at San Francisco. Tommy has been awarded the American Academy of Paediatrics Annie Dyson Child Advocacy Award, the Dartmouth College Martin Luther King Junior award, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care Nkosi Johnson Award, and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.


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