THE Zimbabwe team is set to leave the country on Saturday to take part in the 15th edition of the Homeless World Cup (HWC), hosted in Oslo, Norway from August 29 to September 5.
Zimbabwe has been part of the Homeless World Cup since 2006 and participated in South Africa (2006), Denmark (2007), Australia (2008), Poland (2013), Netherlands (2015) and Scotland last year.
This is the seventh time that the country is being represented at the international football four-aside competition for the homeless.
In Zimbabwe, the HWC is coordinated by the Young Achievement Sports for Development (YASD), whose communication and publicity officer Joe Kuseka said their preparations for the global event were at an advanced stage.
"We have already selected a seven-member team for this year's edition and the team has been preparing. We are scheduled to leave on August 26 and we are still fundraising for air tickets and kits," Kuseka told Standardsport.
Zimbabwe, ranked inside the top 20, will be buoyed by last year's performance in Scotland where the team finished second in the Men's Shield Cup.
But Kuseka believes that the competition is not about the result.
"As the national partner to the Homeless World Cup, our objective is to give young people from marginalised backgrounds a chance to represent their country at an international event. Our objectives have never been to win matches but to transform the mind-set of the participant," he said.
He explained the criteria used to select players eligible for the national team.
"The criteria of the Homeless World Cup is not necessarily that one has to live on the streets. Homeless is relative according to the country, most of our players have experienced homelessness due to Operation Murambatsvina of 2005," he said.
The Homeless World Cup is a network of 70 international partner organisations that use football to change the lives of homeless, disadvantaged and marginalised people throughout the world.
As such, YASD has been using sports-based initiatives to mentor, train and build capacity in young people from the country's marginalised societies.
"We work with grassroots development teams from all over Harare. Our emphasis is not talent, but desire to transform one's life. We work with teams from Mbare, Hopley, Mufakose Chitungwiza, Hatcliffe, Domboshava," he said.
"In Hatcliffe, we have helped teams to form and run their own league. The league has nine teams, each with 30 players registered. This gives access to nearly 300 young people whom we impact positively every week," Kuseka said.
Tafadzwa Clive Besa, Weston Jackson Rice, Fungai Kamwaza, Charles Chaparadza, Sibongile Chiguye, Nyasha Kadenge, Mugove Taruvinga , Simon Manonga
Joe Kuseka (team manager), Petros Chatiza (Coach)