Mberengwa communities use football to reduce drug abuse 

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Robert Munemo

Following a surge in drug and substance abuse among Mberengwa rural youths, Murerezi Community Development Trust (MCDT) has resorted to hosting ball games as a way to distract and discourage youths from sinking into these toxic addictions.

Drug abuse has become a serious challenge among youths in Zimbabwe which result in mental illness or even death, however, MCDT had come to the rescue of Mberengwa youths by introducing sports participation as a way of reducing the risk of overall illicit drug use.

In an interview with this publication, the executive secretary for MCDT, Wilbert Tatira said the main goal behind the establishment of their trust was to help solve community problems using a bottom-up approach and currently their main concern was on how they can reduce or completely terminate drug and substance abuse by idle youths in the community.

“We’re hosting ball games for our youths every weekend to reduce stress and overthinking which in one way or the other might push them into drug-taking,” said Tatira.

Drugs such as marijuana, crystal methamphetamine popularly known as ” mutoriro/guka/combo” as well as strong alcohol “musombodhiya” used by youths as a way of reducing stress and other socio-economic challenges.

One of the youths who is actively involved in the football project implementation who identified himself as Tafadzwa Zhou said they have created “Murerezi Super league” with many objectives among them, to fight idleness in the youths which if not attended translates into drug and substance taking.

“Since February we’ve been running this project called Murerezi Super league. We had many objectives in mind but in short, we’re nurturing young talent in terms of football, secondly, fighting idleness, and indirectly we’re fighting drug abuse. Given a platform I would explain our vision because many people think football is associated with delinquency,” said Zhou.

For Yeukai Chirasha, a graduate trainee in Early childhood development (ECD), the increment in drugs and substance taking by rural Communities youths is a result of long-lasting idleness hangover created during the first wave of Covid-19 lockdown which left youths vulnerable to engage in unbecoming practices involving drugs

“From my assessment, it all started during those days of elongated lockdown. We had never witnessed cases of drugs in this our beloved Communities until those days when children spent more time out of class, the addictions and habits are now entrenched and it’s difficult for them to stop. However, with these ball games we hope some will be distracted and discouraged to continue taking toxic substances,” Chirasha said.

Youths need the government’s support to make this work easier by providing them with balls and jerseys to shape the communities free from safe and drug abuse.

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