Collin Matiza Sports Editor
IN a first for this country, Team Zimbabwe for the 2018 Homeless World Cup football tournament in Mexico in November will include one or two players with albinism.
The Homeless World Cup is an inspirational week-long street football tournament that brings together more than 500 players representing 50-plus countries from around the globe, all of which have faced homelessness and social marginalisation.
The tournament attracts more than 80 000 visitors each year with millions more following the action online.
This year will see the staging of the 16th edition of the Homeless World Cup tournament and it will take place in Mexico City’s iconic Zocalo, right at the heart of the Mexican capital, from November 13-18.
More than 500 players representing 47 countries, including Zimbabwe, will travel to Mexico City to attend the inspiring week-long festival of football, in what is promised to be one of the most spectacular Homeless World Cup tournaments yet.
And the Young Achievement Sports for Development, who pick and run Team Zimbabwe for the Homeless World Cup, yesterday indicated through their Facebook wall that they will, for the first time, include players with albinism in their squad for this year’s world football jamboree in Mexico City.
“Sport has the power to bring people together and Young Achievement Sports for Development encourages the inclusion, participation and development of people with disability and those who are socially marginalised and excluded in sport.
“Through initiatives like the Homeless World Cup, YASD is changing perception and attitudes of society towards people with disability. The 2018 Zimbabwe Homeless World Cup team will, from this year, feature young people with albinism.”
Albinism is a rare condition caused by a genetic disorder which is characterised by the inadequate production of the pigment melanin. The condition is not life threatening, but those suffering from albinism may have to limit their outdoor activities as they cannot tolerate being in the sun for long.
People with albinism are often discriminated against, marginalised and socially excluded.
But YASD have broken with tradition and have decided to include players with albinism in their team for the 2018 Homeless World Cup.
In the past years, the selection of Zimbabwe’s team for the Homeless World Cup was confined to Hatcliffe, a high-density suburb in the northern part of Harare but Petros Chatiza, the programme co-ordinator of the YASD, recently indicated that they have come up with a new selection criteria for their squad.
He said the selection of Team Zimbabwe for this year’s Homeless World Cup in Mexico City in November will be spread to Harare’s high-density suburbs of Mbare and Hopley as preparations for this annual global showpiece gathers momentum.
They are also looking at selecting one or two players from Epworth and they will look for some of the players who took part in last year’s Mwalimu Kumbula soccer tournament which is sponsored by one of that area’s most illustrious sons Musekiwa Kumbula.
Chatiza also said they are looking at sending two teams – one for males and and another another one for females – to this year’s Homeless World Cup in Mexico and they need to raise about $30 000 for this trip.