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From sponsored child to Olympic athlete

Former SOS child Mavis at the 2016 Olympics
Former SOS child Mavis at the 2016 Olympics

Mavis was raised at the SOS Children's Village in Bindura, Zimbabwe, where she learned how to play football. This month, she is representing Zimbabwe in women’s football in the 2016 Rio Olympics. On 3rd August 2016, Mavis and her team played against Germany. We spoke to her the next morning about her childhood dreams becoming a reality.

How did the SOS Children's Village encourage you to follow your dream of becoming an athlete?

I was encouraged by Eddie Magosvongwe (the youth leader at SOS Children’s Village in Bindura). He always told me to do my best as I had great talent. He’s the one who runs the SOS Oaklands Queens Club at the SOS Children’s Village in Bindura. His encouragement led me to join the Weerams Club in Harare.

Do you remember any particular event or athlete who impressed you early on?  

I remember the match I enjoyed the most – this was Zimbabwe vs. South Africa in Johannesburg. Although we were beaten 1-0, I remember playing so passionately it made me feel like I was Christiano Ronaldo.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

‘Be focused on your career. Don’t get carried away or be distracted by boys’ – this was Eddie. He gave me big brother advice.

Have you experienced a breakthrough, and if so, what led to it?

My first breakthrough was when I went to Uruguay as part of the national team. I said to myself, yes, this is it. I am in a different league now.

What was the atmosphere like at the Olympics?

When I got to São Paulo, I asked myself: am I really in Brazil?! Everyone here is excited to see us. People are waving at us and shooting videos on the street.

What do you do in Rio with your free time?

Mavis as a child at an SOS Children's Village
Mavis on her eighth birthday at the SOS Children's Village in Bindura, Zimbabwe

When we are not in practice, most of the time we rest. We are very tired after a big match – just like when we played Germany in the first match. All I wanted to do was sleep.

Did you ever feel like giving up while you were training?

Never, not once. I knew that if I gave up, I would be losing that which I was most passionate about.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?

I am serious about my training. When I am not training with the team, I am training on my own. I go to the gym, and sometimes I play football with some of the guys in my neighbourhood.

What is next?

I want to join the Airforce of Zimbabwe soon and do computer-related work there. The Airforce also has a football team that I can play for. If possible, I would love to have the opportunity to play abroad.

Do you have advice for your young supporters?

My advice to other kids is to use your talent; you never know where it will take you. To all of the SOS kids, remember that you have so many talents. Don’t just sit on them, use them. 

SOS Children's Villages is working towards ensuring every child grows up in a loving family home, so all children flourish and reach their full potential. Sponsor a vulnerable child and change a life.