Victoria Falls to launch first ever amputees football club in Matabeleland North

Mr Robson Musarafu National president of the Zimbabwe Amputee Football Federation (ZAFF)

VICTORIA Falls is set to launch the first ever amputees football club in Matabeleland North, a development that is set to advance the Government’s National Disability Policy and help people with disability to participate in national programming.

The team is already in place waiting for official launch while a committee will be selected this weekend.

 The Victoria Falls Amputees Football Club will for now represent the Matabeleland North province until such a time when structures and clubs are established in other districts such as Lupane, Tsholotsho and Binga mostly.

The Victoria Falls based club will comprise amputees from Victoria Falls urban and surrounding rural areas as well as Hwange and surrounding rural areas.

Amputees Football has been established in some parts of the country particularly in Mutare, Zvishavane, Buhera, Ruwa and Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe is now a member of the Confederation of African Amputee Football Federation (CAAF) and World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF).

The vision is to promote inclusivity and open opportunities for people living with disability in the province and nation at large.

The community teams will help foster strong community support and help nurture talent in young physically challenged people as well as create a platform for personal growth and to break barriers associated with disability.

It will also become a platform to raise awareness on issues of disability in communities.

In Bulawayo already there are two teams: Hebrews Amputees FC and Black Jack Amputees FC.

Mr Robson Musarafu who is national president of the Zimbabwe Amputee Football Federation (ZAFF) and National Team Manager, introduced the sport with Ms Nancy Ziyengwa in Ruwa in 2019 through the formation of Ruwa George Al-Quds Amputee FC (Al-Quds FC) (Al-Koods) which became the country’s first amputees football club.

Mr Musarafu said players were drawn from all over the country through street scouting and direct referrals by other amputees.

The plan now is for every town to have a club and eventually have a competitive league in the mould of a Premier Soccer League.

Mr Musarafu said In December 2022, the club engaged the international Amputee Football governing bodies the Confederation of African Amputee Football (CAAF) and the World Amputee Football Federation (ZAFF) for international affiliations and the minimum structures required for international affiliations were met.

“We then affiliated with the Zimbabwe National Paralympic Committee (ZNPC). So, as of now we have Al-Quds FC as the only fully fledged Amputee Football Club and other teams rising in Bulawayo and Harare including Epworth, Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Norton where the majority of our players come from. We also have teams rising strongly in Victoria Falls, Masvingo, Mutare and Chipinge absorbing players who were coming from there to Ruwa,” said Mr Musarafu.

He said the motivation behind the initiative is that people with Disabilities (PWDs) do not play the current FIFA governed football as no crutches are allowed and to get the PWDs themselves involved in all national programmes.

The ultimate goal is to provide practical independence, freedom and peace to PWDs other than just documenting it in Statutes but not making it available to the need.

It is to implement Government policies leaving no one and no place behind.

“It is good for their fitness. It is an economic activity because we are playing at the same level with FIFA enjoying all the economic benefits available in football. It’s not a charity sport. Now the World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF) was formed with permission from FIFA to change FIFA Rules of the game, and add other rules which are suitable for PWDs. So, the initiative that saw amputee football being one such strong sport code was to make sure no person is left behind in national and international development through sport.

“We are taking people especially PWDs from poverty which causes drug abuse, sexual exploitation and crime. We are taking PWDs off all forms of discrimination and neglect and creating a society where everyone is treated like the next person,” he said.

The initiative dovetails with the National Disability Policy launched by President Mnangagwa in June 2021 which sought to promote inclusivity in national development and to make sure that PWDs are given the same opportunities available to all other people and citizens.

Mr Musarafu said it was noticed that sport is one effective way to unite people who have diverse backgrounds and develop them together in line with National Disability Policy.

Internationally, Amputee Football has taken nations and continents storm.

“Sport is a unifier but more so it is money and wealth. Our PWDs like those of other nations can now be employed through a sport code designed for them. We therefore envision a Zimbabwe whose PWDs are not beggars as we are going to introduce new sport codes for the PWDs such as swimming, music, boxing and football for the blind. Every person with physical limitations will have to be involved in a sport activity suitable for him or her,” he said.

Chronicle

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