All Africa Games: Maria Mutola Joins Mozambique Team


Former 800m world champion, Maria Mutola, has made a dramatic switch by joining up with the Mozambique’s women football team at the ongoing All Africa Games in Maputo.

The former athlete turned footballer told BBC Africa Service that it is not a new terrain for her, revealing that she played football early in her career before deciding to focus on athletics.

“I have been playing football since my childhood days. Actually, it was my first love before athletics. I grew up in a locality that was dominated by football loving people.

“It was later on that I began to devote more time to running rather than playing football with the boys on the street,” she said.

She also stated that she was playing for Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa when she got the invitation to be part of the Mozambique’s women team.

“It was while I was in South Africa training with Sundowns that I was informed that I have been called up to join the girls preparing for the All Africa Games football event.

“It was a bit surprising but I was also excited, considering that I have always wanted to showcase my football skills at the national level. Football is fun and I am glad I am going to be part of the whole fun actively.”

Reflecting on the challenges of her new role, the athletics legend, who was named as the captain of the team at 38, said: “It’s been exciting but tough,” saying she derives motivation from the fact that it affords her another privilege to serve her country.

“It has been pretty tough going back to represent the country in a different sport. I hope I will get the support of the football fans like I did while running for the country.

“It is a challenge that I am ready to face and who knows, I may find myself stuck with football for a long time more than I expected,” she said.

During her athletics career Mutola had no fewer than 10 world titles in both indoors and outdoor event. She won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

—Bamidele Olowosagba

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