MTC Sirens traveled the 400-odd kilometers from Nhedziwa to Magaya, Murehwa, to participate at the 3rd RMT Girls Soccer Tournament June 17-19, 2022. Running under the themes #ChildMarriage and #KickOut, the tournament was organized by Rozaria Memorial Trust. The tournament drew teams across Murehwa, Shamva and extended an invitation to The Sirens.
Incorporating Mega Nhanga, RMT's cultural innovation aimed at retooling culture to end child marriages, the two-day tournament drew a decent crowd who cheered on the 16 teams as they battled it out for honors.
Cheered on by MTC scholars and mentors from Mhondoro as well as MTC legal affairs board member, Adv. Knowledge Renzva, The Sirens were determined to make their mark.
Led by captain Kettina Japa and national Under 17 hopeful, Yolanda Shuhwa, The Sirens got off to a perfect start by dispatching hosts Magaya 1-0. Yolanda was on target. Next, The Sirens breezed past Takawira by a 2-0 scoreline. Lister Ngonjo weighed in with a brace. In the third match, The Sirens lost 0-1 to Chemapango. In the fourth match, The Sirens bounced back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Chemhondoro. Topping the group, MTC moved to the quarter-finals to face Kapasura. The match was suspended at 0-0 as it was getting too dark! The next morning, MTC won the rearranged match 3-1. Our goalie, Beverly Mwakachiyei, saved three shots.
The Sirens faced Gono in the semi-finals, posting an emphatic 4-0 scoreline. Ruvarashe and Yolanda each struck once with Kettina scoring a brace. In the final, MTC faced off against Magaya. With no goals scored in regulation time, the match was settled in a penalty shootout. The hosts prevailed on a 4-2 scoreline to lift the winner's shield while The Sirens received silver medals.
Captain Kettina also won Player of the Tournament award while defender Tanaka Makondesa was voted Most Disciplined Player.
The Sirens were also invited to a special Nhanga by Dr. Gumbonzvanda, the African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriages and founder of Rozaria Memorial Trust.
Way to go, Sirens!
MTC Founder Maka Chikowero, alongside 20 other graduating high school seniors from the school district, received small scholarships to support their college education on Sunday from a local non-profit organization, Women In Focus Inc.
The scholarship awards support students of colour(non-white) who have excelled in their high school studies and also demonstrated leadership inside and outside of school.
In her prepared remarks, Maka acknowledged the importance of her organization to who she is as a person. She also referenced her relative privilege in comparison to some of the girls who are benefiting from MTC in Chimanimani and Mhondoro. She stressed the importance of using her relative privilege to speak about those who lack the tools they need to realize their dreams such as schoolgirls from low-income backgrounds in rural parts of Zimbabwe.
Maka met with and shared thoughts with leaders of Women In Focus who were evidently delighted to meet Maka in person and hear more about her work as a social entrepreneur.
In her acceptance speech, Maka said, "As a Founder of MTC Educate A Girl Inc, championing women and girls empowerment locally and globally, and leading over a thousand girls to pursue education and play sports, I am so humbled. On behalf of all the girls who see me as a role model everyday, I am so honored to receive this Women in Focus award. Maka said, "I would like to thank my family, soccer and swim coaches, the Madison community and everyone for supporting this young global leader." She thanked Women in Focus for the boost in the arm to continue her education at St Catherine's Women University where she will be studying Public Health , and Women and International Development. She said, "The vision of St Kate is to educate women to lead and influence" and repeated what she always says, "The Future is Young, the Future is bright and the future is Female" . Maka thanked Women in Focus for reinforcing the same ideology by recognizing not just her but the thousands of girls behind her through this award.
In the end, it was a dream deferred. It had been a roller-coaster journey for Yolanda Showa, the 16-year-old MTC Sirens FC star striker from Nhedziwa, Chimanimani. Yolanda is one of many beneficiaries of the MTC Foundation's investment in community sport for girls and young women in Chimanimani. When Yolanda heard about our free community girls' soccer project back in 2019, she presented herself before our volunteer coaches, ready to learn.
Well, Yolanda learned the sport so well that when MTC Sirens played Mutambara High School in a friendly match in late 2019, she was offered a scholarship to attend the more prestigious Mutambara High School as a student-athlete! Yolanda continued to play for MTC Sirens during the school holidays. Those who have watched her play are convinced that she possesses immense talent and shows a solid work ethic.
Yolanda's career as a soccer player reached new heights at the MTC IDGC Girls Soccer Tournament held at Nhedziwa on 16 October 2021. Hosted by MTC Foundation in celebration of the girl child, the tournament attracted interest from girls' teams across Chimanimani and beyond. One guest team - and eventual senior champions - Rozaria Girls Soccer Club of Murehwa, traveled all the way from -- you guessed it -- Murehwa in Mashonaland East province to participate. The tournament turned out to be a mixed blessing for Yolanda and her team; MTC Sirens could not take advantage of the boisterous home crowd to carry them to the finals.
Individually, Yolanda excelled, co-winning the top goal scorer award with Anna Mercy from Rozaria Girls Soccer Club. The story of Yolanda could have taken a pause at this point but little did she know her prowess in front of goal had been spotted by scouts of the Manicaland Provincial Select Team. As it turned out, Yolanda's teammate, Makanaka Macherenje, a goalkeeper, also made the cut.
Yolanda did not disappoint at the provincial level either, leading to the BIG call! While playing for some friendly matches for the Manicaland Select, Yolanda was informed she had been invited to the Zimbabwe U17 Women's Provisional Squad! Yolanda laced up her boots and -- alongside the other few players from Manicaland who had been successful -- made the long trip to Harare. Sadly, her friend Makanaka who had also made it past the Manicaland Provincial Select squad and was also invited to Harare couldn't stay in camp for long. When she got to Harare, she was informed that they had invited too many goalkeepers and she had to make the return trip early.
The Zimbabwe Football Association(ZIFA) had been putting together a national women's under 17 squad after 2 years of inactivity due to COVID-19 lockdowns. The U17 squad would also be participating at the African Union Region 5 Youth Games in Maseru, Lesotho between December 3 - 12, 2021. For the first time in her life, Yolanda stepped onto the turf inside the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare in the traditional yellow and green of Zimbabwe's national soccer squads and trained with other members of the Zimbabwe U17 Select provisional squad. She did her best, hoping to be among the final 18 players from the provisional 30-player pool. Two weeks ago, Yolanda was told she was on the trimmed down squad of 25 and she continued to press for that spot in the final 18. Like everyone else in camp, she submitted to COVID-19 tests and other procedures. Well, on Tuesday, December 30, the players were informed that Zimbabwe was no longer sending the boys' and girls' soccer squads to participate in the regional tournament in Lesotho because of uncertainty surrounding the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Yolanda is returning to Chimanimani with her head held high as always. Her dream to play for Zimbabwe has been deferred but it lives on in her heart. Her family, friends and teammates in Chimanimani will welcome her as one of their own. As MTC Foundation, we are beyond excited that our Yolanda made the improbable journey from Chimanimani to rub shoulders with players from elite academies in Harare. She will be serving as a role model for her teammates and community. Watch this space for the next chapter in Yolanda from Chimanimani!
MTC Founder and President Maka Chikowero was appointed to The Sports Bra Project Youth Council. According to www.thesportsbraproject.org , The Sports Bra Project has its roots in Africa, where founder Sarah Dwyer-Shick discovered that the small collection of sports bras she'd brought as gifts for young soccer players in rural Namibia were instead eagerly accepted by older players living near the capital city, Windhoek. Many members of the Namibian National Women's soccer team had never owned something as simple and essential as a sports bra. In her soccer-related travels, Sarah quickly learned the need isn't only in Namibia.
The Sports Bra Project works to make participation in sports possible for all girls and women. To ensure that the equipment gets to its intended location, the project works with trusted partners in the U.S. and abroad. Sports Bras are hand-delivered by individuals and organizations when they travel overseas"
MTC has received sports bras from The sports Bra Project. MTC under the leadership of Maka shipped these sports bras from the USA to Zimbabwe and were shared among the MTC Sirens of Chimanimani, The Rozaria Memorial Trust of Murehwa, and Maningi Football club of Dzivarasekwa Harare.
In her acceptance of the role, Maka said, "It is an honor to be a part of The Sports Bra Project Youth Council. This great organization's mission of "increasing access to sports for women and girls by removing barriers to participation, through providing sports bras to athletes who don’t have access to such a basic piece of equipment, deeply mirrors the MTC Educate A Girl Inc. mission of empowering girls and young women through sports". Maka said she looks forward to growing and being mentored by one of the women whose work ethic and the impact she greatly admires. Thank you Sarah and The Sports Bra Project for the opportunity.
October 31 2021 is the end of the month in which we celebrate the International Day Of The Girl Child but the fight to uplift the girls still rages on.
My highlight of this month is when we managed to change the minds of people who are rooted in their religious beliefs, to accept that their daughters can play soccer and can take it as a career. We brought together religious leaders, elected leaders, and traditional leaders to speak with one voice of ending child marriages and letting girls be girls. I wish I could end with this video and photos, but I believe, you all deserve to hear the girls speak.
On an ordinary Saturday, these friends would have been at their church worshipping. On Friday, October 15, while my 2 friends were in camp for the tournament, their grandpa in yellow was marking the soccer fields. On Saturday, October 16, while the rest of their fellow church members were worshipping, grandpa and the girls were at the MTC Educate A Girl Inc. IDGC tournament. The girls were wearing soccer shorts, something they were never allowed to do, and fighting it out on the soccer field. The friends played their hearts out, their team won the Juniors' championship match sponsored by Redspot Care Ltd. One of my friends won the most disciplined player award sponsored by Keeper Goals. These narratives warm my heart. please keep supporting my work on
The MTC International Day of the Girl Child Girls Soccer Tournament under the theme, Nothing For Girls Without the Girls, End Child Marriages Now, held today, October 16th, at Nhedziwa, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe was a roaring success. It was indeed a day bubbling with uncertainty, palpable tension, and eruptions of pure joy for teams that made it past the tough group stages to march to the finals. What a day!
Six community-based clubs from the Chimanimani rural area were invited to participate and later, a seventh guest team from Murehwa, Rozaria Memorial Trust Girls meant the stakes went a notch up. Chiramba Blue Dragons, Rowa - Eastville, Bumba, Wengezi, and the hosts, MTC Sirens of Nhedziwa knew they had to up their game to match their ambitious guests led by the skillful Anna -Mercy Matedza who famously led her team to the inaugural RMT Girls Soccer championship back in 2017. Two junior teams from MTC Sirens and Mhandarume squared off in the championship match where a trophy was the prize.
On offer were individual medals as well as other medals for Goalkeeper of the Tournament, Most Disciplined Player and Golden Boot award, and the big one: the championship shield! We had a tie on top goal scorers that was shared between Anna Mercy Muradzi from Rozaria Memorial Trust and Yolanda Shuwa from MTC.Sirens, Golden Glove went to Rozaria Memorial Trust. The most Disciplined player award went to Cecilia Munjoma from MTC Junior Sirens The Hon Member of Parliament handed the girls their silverware,
There was heartbreak for the hosts as they could not proceed to the final in the senior category as they were eliminated by more seasoned Mhandarume Queens. In the end, Mhandarume Queens faced off against the guest team, Rozaria Memorial Trust Girls in the final. Panashe Matesva struck early in the first half and no further goals were scored, handing the big prize to the team from Murehwa.
As hosts, it hurt to lose the senior match before our own fans but despite this heartbreak, our message of ending child marriages was the day's biggest winner. Thanks to our sponsors, all players and dignitaries received t-shirts challenging them to "Dream Big!" and to "End Child Marriages Now!"
There was a measure of consolation in the junior category championship match where MTC Sirens juniors eased past Mhandarume juniors 2-0.
Despite the limited time, speaker after speaker reiterated the importance of education for all girls and the need to fight together to end child marriages. Guest of honor Mrs. Saliwe Mtetwa-Zakariya also donated sanitary wear to all the girls who had participated courtesy of her own non-profit, Talia Women's Network. The evening saw girls from MTC . Rowa Eastville, and Rozaria Memorial Trust participate in Nhanga, a cultural innovation crafted by RMT to empower adolescence around issues of sexual and reproductive health education, mental health, accessing services, child marriages, harmful cultural practices, and using the arts to support girls.
MTC Educate A Girl is genuinely grateful for the support from our sponsors, Dream Big, Connect Her, Wisconsin Women Soccer Advisory Council, Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association, Royal Fencing, and Keeper Goals. We will continue to push for more inclusive policies and practices in girls' education, empowerment, and sport. As MTC founder Maka Chikowero said in her video message to the girls attending the tournament, "the future is young, the future is bright and the future is female!-
On behalf of MTC Educate a Girl Foundation , we would love to congratulate Rozaria Memorial Trust on winning the MTC Educate a Girl Foundation International Day Of The Girl Child 2021 tournament in the Seniors Category The runners up were Mhandarume. We would also want to congratulate the MTC Sirens Juniors for lifting the trophy in the juniors category. They also played against Mhandarume Juniors in their championship matchup Let’s keep fighting child marriages and empowering our girls.
Maka Chikowero, MTC Founder & President congratulated the team of Tendai 1, Miriam 2, Estery 3, Anita 4 ,Munashe 5, Anna Mercy 6, Trish 7, Levia 8, Panashe 9, Sharon 10, Melody 11, Substitutes Nyasha, Tariro, Chido, and Shylet . Captain for the day was Anna Mercy
Rozaria Memorial Trust was in Group B with Wengezi and Chiramba and in Group A was Mhandarume, Rowa , M.TC Sirens, and Bumba
Anna Mercy scored in the 3rd minute after halftime to make draw against Chiramba to make 1-1. Panashe Matesva placed another score in the 10th minute mark to beat Chiramba Blue Dragon 2-1. In the second match, RMT played against Wengezi and Anna Mercy did it again in the last few minutes of the second half, RMT 1-0 to win Group A.
Meanwhile in Group A
MTC Sirens lost to Rowa 1-0, drew 1-1 with Mhandarume and beat Bumba 1-0.
Mhandarume drew against Rowa1-1, Drew against MTC Sirens 1-1 and beat Bumba 1-0 to proceed to the finals with RMT of Murewa. RMT won the finals.
Maka also thanked #TeamMTC for pulling the tournament through. She said, "It was a lot of work but you stood out. Great organizing. Thank you Farirai Gumbonzvanda and Blessed Mudhaka for all the hard work to realize my dreams. I am so honored to have you. Congratulations RMT for winning the big one, and congratulations to all who didn’t win for great sportsmanship. It was all about celebrating the IDGC and sending a strong message on ending child marriages. Till next year, salute. And God bless." For more pictures of the event visit www.mtceducateagirlinc.org/international-day-of-the-girl-2021
Following the much-publicized death of 14-year-old Memory Machaya on July 15th, 2021, allegedly at a Johane Marange Apostolic sect shrine in Manicaland, Zimbabwe, MTC Foundation has joined other rights organizations and concerned citizens across the world to speak up against the abuse of girl children by churches and religious sects. Media reports suggest that Memory was forced to drop out of school in Mhondoro and join her mother in Marange, where she was raped, impregnated, and then denied medical care during childbirth, leading to her death. As MTC Foundation, we are sending a clear message that the adults involved must be held liable for the trafficking, rape, denial of medical care, and the death of this child. We strongly support the sustained pressure which has seen the Zimbabwe Republic Police launching its investigations into this and other cases of child sexual abuse and child marriages that the Johane Marange Apostolic sect is being accused of. As part of our initiative to press the government and its responsible agencies to uphold the law which bans "marriages" of children under the age of 18 and prosecute abusers, MTC Foundation members across the world have added their voices to the cause through the #JusticeForMemory campaign. Here are some of the posters that MTC Foundation members and allies have produced.
MTC Equipment Drive a Huge Success! Sunday, July 11, 2021, Chicago Red Stars FC launched an upcycling drive named Go Green Initiative to get fans to donate their gently-used soccer cleats during the Red Stars v Houston Dash match. The Red Stars had identified MTC Foundation as one of the beneficiaries. Maka Chikowero, founder of MTC Foundation, was one of the winners of the 2020 #SheInspiresMe Award. The award recognizes student-athletes who use their platform as athletes to bring positive change to their communities. We are proud that Chicago Red Stars continue to help make soccer more accessible to girls, especially those in rural parts of Africa where the sport is often a preserve for boys and the equipment lacking. The athletic shoes and soccer cleats will be shared with girls and women’s soccer teams in rural Zimbabwe. Thank you, Chicago Red Stars!
Maka was on hand to symbolically receive a pair of soccer cleats at halftime during the Red Stars v Houston Dash match. She thanked the club of showing faith in her organization’s ability to help make soccer more accessible to girls via the donation.
MTC Educate A Girl Inc continues to spread its message of keeping orphaned girls in school and involving girls from rural communities in sport. On Friday, March 26, 2021, four MTC volunteers drove for an hour and a half south-east of Harare to Mhondoro Ngezi, a rural community where most families are subsistence farmers. At Gavhunga Secondary School, our team was welcomed by school leaders for a handover ceremony of two soccer kits. Four girls recently recruited into the MTC scholarship program at the school also received school uniforms and school supplies. “This is such a wonderful gift to our school. As you can see, everyone is very excited to know about MTC Foundation and to hear about the great work that Maka Chikowero is doing. We are truly grateful and our teams can’t wait to use this soccer equipment. The girls who received scholarships are similarly grateful and we will work to ensure their success,” said Mr. Mutembwa, the school head. From there, our team proceeded to Gavhunga Primary School where a lively group of girls gathered to welcome them. Following a brief handover ceremony, the messages of appreciation were shared by girls and their teachers. “This is a gift of love. Please tell Maka that through this gift, she will change the lives of many of us here at Gavhunga,” the girl’s team captain said.