In a world and at a time seemingly never more in need of a good news story, here is a genuinely heartwarming account of one of our players who is looking forward to a happy Christmas.
Excited about Christmas and what awaits her in the New Year, and the new decade, Shamsia Selemani is part of Lengo’s successful and culturally trailblazing team of 16-year-old females.
It wasn’t always like this and for sure life is still a struggle in one of the poorest countries, Tanzania, in the world’s poorest continent, Africa. But for Shamsia, stress and fear were replaced by joy and optimism when she joined Lengo.
In her own words – transcribed from the near faultless handwritten English she has worked hard to learn in school with the help of Lengo – this is her story.
My name is Shamsia Selemani. I am 16 years old. I am a Lengo player. My position on the field is central defender or defensive midfielder.
We are five people in our family – mother and four kids. I have three brothers. I am the second born in my family.
I’m living with my mama and all my brothers. My father passed away when I was five years old, after he became sick with tuberculosis.
So since then my mother has been fighting any way she can to make sure that she can care for the family. She is jobless so she depends on doing some casual work like washing the clothes of rich families, sweeping and sometimes fetching water to them. This way she can get a small amount of money but it means she can afford to buy 1kg of maize flour or rice, so at night time we can have our one meal of the day.
My older brother completed primary education and passed his exams. He wanted to join secondary education but he didn’t because my mama couldn’t afford to pay the school payments [for compulsory school uniform and lunch, even in government schools]. From there my brother had to stop going to school.
I joined Lengo in 2016. I met some girls who were coming back from football training. I asked them about it, then they explained to me about Lengo. Because I was passionate about football [through her dad, although at that time she did not play], I received the news as my only way to reach my goals.
My mama was not ready to see me playing football, so I had a hard time to convince her to allow me to join Lengo. After two weeks spent trying to convince her she finally allowed me to join. When I got a chance to join Lengo, now Happy Face came on me! Because most of the time until then I was lonely and had a lot of stress because of the hard life our family was going through.
From there Lengo started to help me, paying all my school contributions [for uniform, lunch, books and stationery], and I saw the smile on my mama’s face again. Now she has to think about only the rent for the house we are living in, and food. She is not thinking any more about my school and educating my two younger brothers because we are all under the Victory Umbrella of Lengo.
My two younger brothers joined Lengo a year later after I had joined Lengo.
My daily routine: I wake up at 5.30am, then prepare myself for school. Then I go to school at 6.15am.
When I come home from school I do some activities, like washing clothes and cleaning our house. Then I go to football training. After training I have three hours to go through my school studies to review what I learned.
Lengo – Now, when you say ‘Lengo’ … Lengo is my everything. I’m getting everything important for my bright future from Lengo – my schooling and living my football dream to become a professional player and a businesswoman in my favourite subjects which are bookkeeping and commerce.
Now, as Lengo says, I am ‘scoring goals for life’, and not only for me but for my whole family.
Now my community and my mama knows the value of football, not only on the field, but off the field as well.
My dad was a football fan. He supported Barcelona and Simba from Tanzania. I’m so sad because he passed away before he could see me playing football. He was not a player but he was so interested in football.
Once I got an opportunity to join Lengo I promised with all my heart that I will work hard to make sure I get him to smile where he is – both in terms of my success in football and life in general; making life better for my family.
Before my friends introduced me to Lengo I had never played football, because in my community girls were not given a chance to play football. The community was based on ‘boys only’, and there were no girls’ teams at that time.
That’s why I can say Lengo means so much in my life. Lengo is my light. It’s lighting my way to reach my goals. Lengo brought me a smile again.
Christmas would be a happy day for her family this year, said Shamsia. “It is always a big day. I always celebrate with my family and friends. Everyone is excited in preparing for the day. We usually give each other small cards as gifts. I will spend Christmas Day with my family and visiting some of my fellow Lengo players.
Thank you Lengo Australia. Thank you Lengo Tanzania. Wishing you a very wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year – Shamsia Selemani.
If you are looking to give a gift of joy and hope this Christmas look no further than donating to Lengo Football Academy. Donations are desperately needed, where even a small amount can help transform a life like Shamsia’s and those of her family and community members.