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Zim footballers share experiences with veteran U.S. sports administrator
June 22, 2011
administrator, Jon McCullough, has expressed optimism about the
prospects of Zimbabwean footballers acting as positive role models
on social issues such as the fight against HIV and AIDS, promoting
peace and being brand ambassadors for the sport.
taken aback by how involved all the participants were. When I asked
them to give me an example of how they wanted to contribute to the
movement, they would write half a page within two minutes.... It
made it so enjoyable to see how well received the whole concept
of being a positive role model is here. There is this potential
in Zimbabwe for serious opportunities where they can make a difference
using the sport of football," said McCullough at the conclusion
of a two-day workshop June 20-21 organized by the Footballers Union
of Zimbabwe (FUZ).
now take football not as a sport but as a movement," said
Salimu Milanzi of Motor Action Football Club after the workshop.
"Football is not just a sport it is something in society,
and from now on I will get involved not just by teaching others
but also living the example," said the former Hwange and Masvingo
United soccer star.
FUZ was established
in March last year and works to provide, promote, facilitate and
safeguard proper welfare and conditions of footballers as well as
promote professionalism in sport. In May this year, the United States
Embassy, through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief (PEPFAR), provided a $60,000 grant
to support a partnership between the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe
(FUZ) and Population
Services International-Zimbabwe (PSI-Zim) to prevent the spread
of HIV/AIDS by educating the union's membership, football
fans and young people.
interaction with a seasoned professional sports administrator from
the U.S. is a continuation of our partnership with FUZ to ensure
that players in the football industry can be effective role models
in the prevention of HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe, as well as other
social programs," said Sharon Hudson-Dean, Counselor for Public
Affairs at the U.S. Embassy.
covered various aspects of sports administration including football
governance, branding, and managing oneself as an athlete.
important thing is that we had administrators, sponsors and team
owners participate. A lot of issues were discussed, including getting
and maintaining sponsorship, branding for clubs, and being positive
role models. It was very enriching," said More Moyo, Treasurer
of the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe.
included soccer players and coaches in Zimbabwe's premier
soccer league as well as representatives of the Women's National
Football Team currently in camp ahead of the COSAFA tournament scheduled
for July 2 this year.
playing soccer is beneficial for women. "It's a physically
demanding sport and you have to be aware of your body, you have
to take ownership of your body. Once women take ownership of their
bodies and gain confidence, they eliminate those stereotypes they've
grown up with."
is the effect of women's competitive soccer on the way men
perceive women, said McCullough. "If you give women the opportunity
to compete at a high level, and men see that, it's a tool
to help understand equality. It creates a conversation and puts
women in that conversation."
participants inquired about many aspects of the game including how
the U.S. has dealt with issues like racism and education in sport.
Others shared insights about virtually all aspects of developing
the game of football, with various sports personalities sharing
needs to be improved in Zimbabwe is language," said Norman
Mapeza, national soccer team coach. "The majority of us here
understand Shona better than English. If you go to Bulgaria, Turkey
and China, everything is in their language. This is a problem in
this country - why can't you put everything in the local languages
so that everybody can understand," he said
U.S., we have an advantage in that we have a great competitive college
sports system. There are opportunities for young athletes to compete
in the United States through a scholarship as long as you have never
played professional sports. Developing something like that in Zimbabwe
will be a struggle in universities, but it is valuable because it
helps recruit young athletes," said McCullough, who is chairman
of the Athlete Council with the U.S. Soccer Federation and is also
serving his second term on the Board of Directors.
On June 23 and
24, McCullough will be in Bulawayo where he will work with local
NGOs to conduct workshops on peace building. As an advocate, McCullough
has worked with a variety of international organizations such as
the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, with whom he developed
an international conflict resolution program. He first implemented
the program among groups of youth in the former Yugoslavia who were
disabled from the war, bringing former foes together through soccer,
putting them on the same teams, and helping them work through conflict.
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