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Players, Fans Giving Female Soccer Medics Torrid Time

Sibusisiwe Mtunzi of Tsholotsho Football Club.

Top-flight soccer club female physiotherapists, commonly known as medics, say it is hard to work in male-dominated dressing rooms as they have to deal with abusive fans and players in addition to unwritten club rules and regulations that prohibit them from sleeping with their spouses ahead of soccer games.

Some of the physiotherapists that have been ill-treated include Jacqueline Sarandega of Hwange Football Club, who faces many challenges like male egos and working hard to prove that they can do the job like their male counterparts.

Jacqueline Sarandega of Hwange Football Club.
Jacqueline Sarandega of Hwange Football Club.

Another medic Sibusisiwe Mtunzi of Tsholotsho Football Club says at times they are abused by football fans and players.

Mtunzi says her worst experience was when she was allegedly beaten up by Dynamos player at Rufaro Stadium for attending to an injured player.

She claims that the player thought that she was time-wasting as they were leading Dynamos by a solitary goal.

Sarandega adds that she also once suffered in the hands of some Dynamos fans who called her a prostitute when she entered the field of play to attend to an injured player.

Sarandega says she was shocked to hear such derogatory remarks.

But the medic says she will never give up her profession because of unruly fans and uncouth players.

In terms of the use of juju or traditional medicine in soccer, both say they are now used to it. Mtunzi simply says when in Rome, one has to do what Romans do.

They also claim that they are not allowed to have sex with their spouses a day or so before any Premier Soccer League match as per some unwritten rules of the game.

Former Warriors and Zimbabwe Saints Football Club striker, Andrew “Mai Maria” Kadengu, says it is rare for female medics to attend to players on the soccer field.

But he stresses that there is nothing wrong with women taking up such challenges.

Clubs are required by FIFA to have qualified physiotherapists on the bench - whether they are men or women.

Premier Soccer League chief, Kennedy Ndebele, says Zimbabwean soccer fans and football players should stop abusing women physiotherapists.

"We don't encourage such a behaviour as in the soccer family we are all one. There is one incident in which a player beat up one of the medics and appropriate action was taken against the player."