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June 17, 2010

Mekese Match

By Cynara Vetch

We arrived in Mekese with a football match in full swing, Tomato FC(!) the local club were playing from a Secondary School in the district and the fans were very excited. Around the palm fringed football pitch kids had climbed trees and put up banners all to support their teams.

Again we linked with Family Health International but this time their partners were Grass Roots Soccer and Faraja Trust who are integrating health and soccer education into the curriculum and working with young people on health issues. I met Emanuel Shila who is the Master Coach for Grass Root’s project in the area, he trains up coaches in the area to teach football techniques and health education messages. He was excited to be at the event, he told me “This is great, using the World Cup to help people. You see a lot of people here to watch the match through Africa Goal it’s very poa (excellent)”

A booming brass band with shiny but ancient trombones and trumpets played the background music to a dance off. The kids went wild dancing in their traditional kuduku style. The winners won Africa Wins t-shirts and vuvuzelas. The Canadian High Commissioner for Tanzania had made it all the way down from Dar Es Salaam and gave a great speech telling us that

“Many of you here are the future generation of Tanzania and you can help prevent the spread of HIV by talking about the risks and protecting yourselves. Today we see the strength of the African Nation in hosting the World Cup. Tomorrow, lets continue to see that strength as we all work together to stop the spread of HIV.”

Initially when the match started we had a very laid back audience. Nigeria’s sudden goal right at the offset failed to rustle up much excitement but as the pitch darkened and the game unravelled the noise and tempo grew till the 2000 strong crowd created a buzzy atmosphere.

Now we’re heading South towards the Malawi border.

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