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Cup gives girls from Harare, Zimbabwe a chance to triumph
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
July 27, 2007
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With all the confidence
of a world-class soccer star, Omega Mpini, 13, shrugs off the compliments
of her teammates and runs back into position. All eyes are on the
young girl leaping several feet in the air, volleying the ball across
the pitch. As they say in these parts: Goal!
is 'Mboma', in honour of Patrick Mboma, the all-time
top goal-scorer for the Cameroonian national team. She is the star
player on the Glenview Queens, a local girl's soccer team
which has won the right to represent Zimbabwe at the 35th annual
Norway Cup in Oslo.
"I love soccer,"
says Omega. "I love everything about it."
The Norway Cup is a week-long
football tournament made up of 1,500 youth teams from around the
world. The Glenview Queens will not only battle for the title and
make new friends but they'll also learn about HIV prevention.
"The day we qualified
for the Norway Cup was the greatest," Omega says. "We
had proven that we played good football, but winning also meant
we had learned about life, including HIV and AIDS."
This is a rare opportunity
for Omega and her teammates who come from a poor suburb of Harare.
Like many of her teammates, Omega lost her parents to AIDS at a
very early age.
health and teaches important lessons about respect, leadership and
equality regardless of gender or natural ability," says UNICEF
Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Festo Kavishe. "Using sport
to combat HIV is an added and important element."
Harare's girls football
team is part of the UNICEF-supported YES (Youth Education through
Sport) 'Kick AIDS Out' programme. UNICEF has provided
supply kits for the team, so the girls will have everything they
need when they showcase their football talent in Norway. The Glenview
Queens is one of 20-30 teams from underpriviledged areas whose trips
are being supported by the Norway Olympics Committee and the Confederation
"I feel very proud
of my self to be the ambassador of Zimbabwe," Omega says with
An estimated 1.7 million
people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe with 1.1 million children
having been orphaned by the disease. In response to this, the YES
programme in Zimbabwe as well as several other countries decided
to add an extra challenge to their already skilled players. The
Glenview Queens are going to the Norway Cup not only because they
excel at football, but also because of the work they do in their
community to encourage HIV/AIDS education and prevention.
of how they perform in Norway, Omega and her friends have already
won a great victory," says Dr. Kavishe. "Their orphaned
lives of much hardship have been replaced by a sense of triumph
in their young hearts and minds."
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