Ex-Zimbabwe Women Football Player Dies

A former Zimbabwean female football player, Miriam "Makeba Midza" Mliule, has died in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday after a short illness.

She was 55. According to her daughter, Ayesha, Mliule just fell sick last week "and all of a sudden itt went bad" before she died on Friday and was buried on Saturday as per her Muslim custom.

Mliule was one of the first women to play football in this country when she turned out for the now-defunct Dynamos Queens in the early 1980s. Football was then shunned by most women in this country but Mliule was part of the few girls who took the sport seriously and joined Dynamos Queens.

Dynamos Queens were part of the DeMbare family and in 1982 they wrote their own piece of history when they won the women's version of the Castle Cup, which was then the country's premier knockout competition, and they walked away with Z$250, which was a lot of money then.

They beat Portland City from Mabvuku in the final.

In fact, women's football began to be taken seriously in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s with teams like Dynamos Queens, Portland City, Tabex Queens, Payline Queens, Highlanders, Bindura Burning Stars and Zimbabwe Saints Queens playing in their own league.

The teams used to play as curtain-raisers to men's sides and Dynamos Queens were a dominant force in that league and it remains a fact that they built the foundation of the success story that the Mighty Warriors are enjoying on the international stage.

Dynamos Queens drew most of its players from Harare's high-density suburb of Mbare, where Mliule was born and bred before she moved to settle in South Africa. "Even at the time of her death, my mum was still a big fan of both Dynamos (the men's side) and the Mighty Warriors and she religiously followed the teams' progress from Johannesburg," Mliule's daughter, Ayesha said.

"My heart is so broken . . . she was a mother, a sister and my everything.

"I can't believe she is no more . . . I will really miss her!"

Mliule, who is survived by three children, was buried on Saturday at Avalon Cemetery in Johannesburg.
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