By Joe Arimoso SJ  

Football again! Yes, football, the madness that has dogged me from the time I was at Makumbi mission in 2003. With the help of KitAid (a charity organisation in the UK) I now run three registered soccer academies in Norton, Kuwadzana and Mbare. Involving about 300 boys and girls aged between 10-18 years.

The geographical location of these places perhaps indicates my own inclination towards the poor and marginalised population. And God, in his own way, has allowed a trickle of blessings for these children, most of who come from poverty-stricken and AIDS-plagued families.

In spite of dearth of resources, we have ten orphans we helped get back to school, thanks to the Jesuit Orphans Trust. We also had Thomas Killian from Jesuit Missions in Nurenberg participating in the London Marathon, running a gruelling 42 km to raise funds for these academies.

However, it is the success in football that steals the show in this article. From our three academies, five of our boys were selected into the final squad of 16 boys who travelled to Poland to take part in the VW International Junior Masters tournament on the 28th of May 2012. Three are from Mbare (Tatenda Muringani, Malvin Maradzi, Tapfumaneyi Chigava) one is from Kuwadzana (Stanely Mhare), and one comes straight from a farm near Norton (Emmanuel Jalayi).

No wonder it was such a sight when I went to the airport to see them off. Parents and relatives came in their droves to bid the boys farewell and to wish them good luck. There were tears of joy, hugs,  singing and dancing… One parent said to me, with tears running down her cheeks, “My son has achieved what we could not even dream of, boarding a plane and going overseas. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you…”

A month ago these boys were ordinary boys in their families, school and their communities. Now their place has been redefined, their own way of looking at the world has been changed.

The constraints of poverty may not disappear overnight. But now these children can dare to dream.