Refugees learn to score

JOHANNESBURG: Zimbabwean refugee children have been stealing the limelight at the South African Football Association (SAFA) accredited under 17 and under 20 competitions.

The Zimbabwean children have been living at Sowetos Jabavu refugee Centre which is under the former Central Methodist of South Africa Bishop Paul Verryn. Tendayi Nyariya, who is the child and youth care worker at the Jabavu Children Centre, told The Zimbabwean that the children have been playing some exhilarating football.

These Zimbabwean children are talented. It is unfortunate that some children in the under 20 have to do piece jobs and not play in all games otherwise they could have performed better. It wont surprise me to see one of the boys going to trials in one of the South African Premier League teams in the not so distant future, said Nyariya. The teams coach, Jomo Mokoena, was upbeat about the boys, saying that if they got good guidance and support the sky would be their limit.

Amos Mlauzi, the captain of the under 20 team, said playing soccer had bridged the gap between foreigners and the South Africans. Soccer has reduced some misconceptions and xenophobia amongst South Africans. We met through soccer and we are now friends with some of the South Africans. When we go in the streets of Jabavu we are now known, he said.

Paul Verryn said the team was formed early this year to provide recreational services for the children and to keep them out of trouble.

There are some future stars in these boys. We decided to exploit their potential. We decided to give them something to do so as to use their time productively rather than in a negative manner. One day some of them shall play in the league teams, he said. The team is called Tirisani (under 17 and 20) a Sotho word meaning working together.

Post published in: Athletics

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