Women’s football | Maize husks mark lines in Mzuzu, says Mr. Happy

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One of the most lyrical descriptions of traveling to women’s football in Africa comes from the recent e-mail newsletter of Africa Unplugged in Nkhata Bay, Malawi. A revival of the charity’s Nkhata Bay United Sisters FC (see 15 Jan 07) involved several players participating in regional trials for the Malawi senior women’s team.

Despite not having played football previous to the girls’ program starting in 2006, seven Nkhata Bay representatives—Martha Longwe, Chikondi Gama, Naomi Mhone, Mourine Mhone, Virginia Hojane, Mphaso Banda and Ruth Phiri—were chosen for the national side. Malawi faces Namibia in a friendly on Mar 26. Of special interest is the narrative that founder Chris Ashton quotes from one of the program’s local staff members, Mr. Happy.

I, Mr. Happy M.D., accompanied the girls on their way to Mzuzu, everything was good. Singing, chatting, and final touches in coaching the girls were all mixed in with the mini bus ride on our way. We had a stop over at Mpamba where we bought some snacks, bananas, green maize, oranges and few avocado pear, fruits rich in vitamins. The rains were a dripping-dripping, but we never gave up the fight to meet our friends in Mzuzu with the vision to win and get good positions for the national team. We arrived in Mzuzu at 11.00 am and drove straight to the venue ground Chiwabvi stadium; we were probably the second team to get there and every thing was normal. To our surprise the football pitch was marked with maize (husks) to show lines instead of lime. It is true … you must always expect the unexpected as you travel in Africa.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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  1. [...] Seven Nkhata Bay players qualified for the senior Malawi women’s team at regional trials in Mar 08, Ashton writes (see 19 Mar 08). [...]

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