IN one of the first events to celebrate World AIDS Day (December 1), six recreational soccer clubs will contest in the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Harare Professionals Soccer League (Hpsl) Test and Score Challenge Tournament on Saturday.
The event will be held at Mbare High School grounds on November, 23, 2019 starting at 9 am, with the finals expected to be played at 2.30 pm. In addition to football and dance entertainment, PEPFAR partners will provide health services on the sidelines of the matches with scheduled presentations to clubs during the day.
The Test and Score Tournament was launched in August this year with 24 Hpsl teams participating. The draw pitted clubs from the superior Hpsl Gold League with their counterparts in the Hpsl Silver League.
Five clubs- Bayethe, Protector Rangers, SPAR, Whelson Transport, and Zim Lawyers qualified with Bakers Inn being the only club from the Silver League.
We have the cream of recreational football battling it out for honors whilst a number of PEPFAR partners will be on hand to provide information and health services,” said Tatenda Chinyanganya, Hpsl Secretary.
“Our goal is to ensure that male professionals access much needed information on HIV self-testing as well as related access to health services.”
Chinyanganya said members of the public should not expect the traditional boozers football as clubs in the Hpsl have quality that could fit in any of the professional leagues. Most Hpsl clubs have former national team and premier league players including Alan Johnson and Eddie Nyika (Bayethe), Johnson Zimbabe and Silver Bhebhe (Protector Rangers), Alois Bunjira (Zim Lawyers), to name just a few.
The Hpsl has 24 clubs supported by individuals and companies in organized 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).
Joma, a religious outfit, has already secured the top spot in the Silver League whilst the Gold League is going to the wire with Bayethe (46 points), Zim Lawyers (45) and Protector Rangers (45) all with a chance to win it with one match to play.
PEPFAR supports the government of Zimbabwe to end AIDS and this year provided $163million to support the attainment of the 95-95-95 targets. It is celebrating the 2019 World AIDS Day under the theme for World AIDS Day 2019 “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic:
Community by Community” which highlights the vital role of communities in controlling and ultimately ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic. This is the second time PEPFAR has partnered footballers in an HIV and AIDS campaign.
In 2011, the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe received funding for a three-year medical male circumcision drive that reached nearly 400,000 young people across the country through professional soccer players.
Between 2012 and 2013, Population Services International 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.