Collin Matiza, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE will once again be part of this year’s Homeless World Cup football jamboree which will welcome 63 teams representing 47 nations across the globe in Mexico City, Mexico, in November.
The Homeless World Cup tournament will return to the venue of the sucessful 2012 event, the iconic Zocalo, right in the heart of Mexico City. In fact, the Homeless World Cup Foundation uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives – through the power of teamwork and participation – while also changing people’s perceptions of homelessness and the issues surrounding it.
And this year’s inspirational tournament will run from November 13-18 with an expected 200 000 spectators and millions more watching the event online. More than 400 fast-paced games will take place across four purpose-built pitches.
The men’s/mixed competition will see 47 squads competing for six separate trophies, while 16 teams will play for two trophies on the women’s competition.
More than 500 players, including eight from Zimbabwe, will travel to the Mexican capital for the week-long football festival.
In Mexico City, Zimbabwe will be joined by five other African countries – Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa – who have also entered teams for this year’s Homeless World Cup tournament.
Team Zimbabwe for the Homeless World Cup has over the past six years or so been picked by a local non-profit making organisation, Young Achievement Sports for Development, who run their programmes from Harare’s high-density suburb of Hatcllife.
And the YASD, through their project co-ordinator Petros Chatiza, yesterday indicated that Team Zimbabwe for the 2018 Zimbabwe Homeless World Cup will, for the first time, feature a player with albinism – Douglas Masiyazi.
“Participation of people with albinism in the Homeless World Cup highlights the challenges that people with albinism face everyday – exclusion, social marginalisation and stigma,” Chatiza said.
“In Zimbabwe, for most people with albinism, taking part in sports activities is a major health hazard. Due to poor eyesight coupled with burns associated with long exposure to the sun, most people with albinism end up shying away from sporting activities.
“But Douglas Masiyazi is a man who has defied odds through his passion for football, which has seen him being selected for the 2018 Zimbabwe Homeless World Cup team which will participate in the annual global street soccer showcase in Mexico from November 13-18.
“Masiyazi is a 29-year-old man with albinism. In Zimbabwe due to the high cost of sunscreen lotions and spectacles people with albinism often find themselves on the sidelines of sports activities. Douglas has dared to overcome the hurdle of inclusion by taking part in the Zimbabwe Homeless World Cup selection tournament.”
Joe Kuseka, the YASD communications manager, also said quite a number of people with albinism took part in their selection process of Team Zimbabwe for this year’s Homeless World Cup but due to financial constraints, they were forced to pick only one player.
“We were also supposed to travel with a women’s team for this event as quite a number of talented young girls from our community also took part in our selection process but unfortunately they won’t be part of the team due to financial constraints,” Kuseka said.
He said they were now expecting to travel to Mexico with a 10-member team comprising of eight players and two officials for this year’s Homeless World Cup.