Powerful women, throughout the world, exude traits of determination, resilience, passion, commitment, patience, overcoming odds and a winning spirit. When we think of powerful women, thoughts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, first Lady Michelle Obama, Australian’s first woman Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first woman president, to name a few, come to mind. I also think about the Positive Ladies Soccer Club. The Positive Ladies Soccer Club is comprised of HIV positive women, in one of Zimbabwe’s poorest towns, who decide to form a soccer club to show they are winners and not losers. The women come from Epworth, a town with hardly any electricity and running water and a high incidence of AIDS. 1 in 4 persons are infected with HIV in the town. It was the women’s desire to show the world that they still have life and could compete in a tournament and fight stigma against them.
I recently had the opportunity to view the short documentary film of the Positive Ladies Soccer Club. It was one of those rare inspiring films that show that powerful women exist in the unlikeliest of places and circumstances. Rather than have a victim mentality, these women decide to take on society and prove to the world and themselves that they exude the traits of powerful women, despite their disease and associated stigma.
The film, by Joanna Stravropoulou, shows women, who are scorned, laughed at, ridiculed and told they would never make it. Ms. Stravropoulou remarks that the women are “ scorned, shunned, laughed at, kicked out of their house by their landlord, husband (who was the one who infected them in the first place) or their in-laws.” Men questioned who would be having babies while they are out playing soccer. Many of the women are just striving to survive with their disease but wanting something more than just striving to survive. They embark on an unforgettable and remarkable journey, proving they are powerful women.
The film shows the progress of the women from the inception of the idea to start a soccer club with HIV infected women to their selection of a coach, hard training and ultimate final matches of the soccer tournament. The film’s focus is on the everyday struggles of these women and yet, resilience and motivation to be part of the team, despite all odds facing them. One of the players must take her husband many miles, by wheel barrow to and from the health clinic, to get his medicine daily. She then returns after taking him to practice with the team. She does this despite her own illnesses. At times, the women’s spirits are low but they have made a commitment which overrules their physical weakness and issues. As one woman player says, she just wants to show that they can kick that ball. For them, that ball represents life itself. And the film shows they can kick that ball and much more.
The trailer of the film follows below: