THE United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Harare Professionals Soccer League (Hpsl) joined hands this week to launch the PEPFAR- Hpsl Test and Score Football Tournament.
During the tournament, Pepfar partners will work with male professionals on HIV prevention, HIV testing and adherence to treatment.
At PEPFAR, we are excited about this partnership and we will be monitoring progress as you play soccer and get to know more about smart decisions to protect yourself from acquiring HIV,” said Dr Ponesai Nyika, Public Health Specialist at US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“For those that are already positive, get onto treatment and adhere to treatment and get tested regularly to monitor how the virus is responding to treatment.”
The Hpsl has 24 clubs supported by individuals and companies in organised in two recreational soccer leagues, the Gold and Silver leagues. It was established in 2013. Zim Lawyers FC won in the inaugural title but since then Obama Boys Football Club dominated proceedings winning a record four championships before turning into a football powerhouse overseeing two clubs- Bayethe (Gold league) and Real Mavericks (Silver).
Simbisa are the defending champions and other perennial title contenders are Star FM, Whelson Transport, Protector Rangers and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz). GSC City Wolves is leading the pack in the Silver League but ZRP Southerton and Joma are leading the chase.
During the draw Silver League Clubs were paired against their illustrious opponents in the Gold League.
According to John Pomo, hpsl Tournaments Coordinator, winners proceed to the next round with the finals expected on World AIDS Day.
“We expect responsible conduct and we will appoint a match commissioner for all the matches involving the PEPFAR Test and Score Tournament to provide independent insights about the match in case of major disputes,” said the tough speaking Whelson Transport official.
“It’s an exciting time for the Hpsl,” said Moore Moyo, league vice chairperson. “We are extremely grateful for this unique opportunity and we ask clubs to participate and encourage even non footballers in their respective clubs and companies to join in the
Moyo was part of the Footballers Union Executive that partnered Pepfar in a medical male circumcision drive that reached nearly 400,000 young people across the country through professional soccer players.
Between 2012 and 2013, PSI trained more than 449 soccer players from 16 soccer clubs
nationwide to facilitate sessions on the risks of HIV, the dangers of multiple partners, the importance of knowing one’s status, and getting circumcised. A number of school boys and players were circumcised.
“Our experience with the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe shows that sport is an effective vehicle for driving health messages,” said Moyo who is also the director of Star FM, a force in the Hpsl.