Zimbabwe Women Combat HIV Stigma
October 19, 2009
HIV-positive women in Zimbabwe are taking to the soccer pitch to fight misconceptions and stigma about HIV/AIDS. The project began in December, and enough women have joined to organize competitions among 16 teams. An attempt to organize a similar league for men has not yet succeeded, as there were not enough players to form even two teams. All the women players are public about their HIV status.
"We wanted these games to be curtain-raisers for some of the big men's games, so that more people can see what these girls are doing," said Chris Sambo, the project's coordinator and a former CEO of Zimbabwe's Premier League. "But many clubs are superstitious and they don't want women on the pitch before the game, and more so when the women are known to be HIV-positive."
However, Sambo is not deterred: "Given the prevalence of HIV in the Southern African region, I'd love to see an international competition with the final played at the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."
10.13.2009; Steve Vickers