HE realised he was different from everybody else when he was very young. Some kids would stare at him and others would even refuse to play with him because of his ashen white skin.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
But this boy living with albinism, Douglas Masiyazi, was a fairly talented footballer with big dreams.
The ultimate dream was to one day become a professional footballer — play for the national team and go further in the sport of his idols Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari.
But there was hope for as long as his parents were alive.
Sadly they both passed away in a car crash when he was in Grade 6 at Gombakomba Primary School in Zimunya, Manicaland.
What followed was rejection from the community and family leading to a life of struggle.
Masiyazi tried to take himself through school by herding other people’s cattle for fees, in the end he even failed to sit for his O’Level exams.
However, as fate would have it, the 28-year-old was part of the Zimbabwe team that finished 14th out of 42 teams at the 2018 Homeless World Cup in Mexico last November.
It was in his wildest dream that he would actually represent the country in the sport that made up many of his dreams growing up.
“Going to Mexico is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I never thought something like that would happen to me in my lifetime,” Masiyazi told The Sports Hub.
“It was my first time on a plane and I was at a state in my life where I never thought I would ever travel overseas especially after my own family had rejected me.
“When your own family rejects you because of your skin I don’t think there is any hope, so I would like to thank Young Achievement Sports Development for picking me to go and represent my country in Mexico,” he said.
Masiyazi was part of the depleted five-member team that travelled for the football event hosted in Mexico City alongside Ngonidzaishe Fero, Tungamirai Chauruka, Simbarashe Marembo and James Jasi.
Although he was used sparingly coming off the bench most of the time, Masiyazi managed to score three goals at the tournament.
His most memorable moment was when he played against his favourite national team Brazil.
“It still humbles me that I played against Brazil and other top football teams and actually scored goals. I remember scoring two goals against Wales and scoring another goal against Peru. It was a dream come true for me.
“When I started playing football as a small boy I always wanted to emulate (Peter) Ndlovu and (Benjani) Mwaruwari who were both my idols, but sadly I couldn’t pursue these dreams,” he said.
The Mexico expedition awakened the desire in Masiyazi to see more people living with albinism being afforded equal opportunities in locals sport.
“What bothers me now is why we don’t have any player living with albinism playing for our local clubs. I don’t want to believe that all of us do not make the grade.
“Going to Mexico has given me the desire to start a football academy for people with albinism in Chitungwiza where I stay. I want to appeal to all sponsors who would want to invest in that cause,” Masiyazi said.
Currently, Masiyazi is part of a mixed team that has seven people living with albinism that plays football every Sunday at Seke II Primary School.
Without any qualification to give him a decent job, Masiyazi learnt how to make shoes which he sells to make a living.
“I was taught to make shoes by a certain man from my neighbourhood in Chitungwiza and I worked with him for a while. We would sell our shoes as far as Kadoma and Beitbridge, but now I am not making any shoes because we don’t have capital to buy materials for making shoes. It is actually one of my dreams to have a shoe factory of my own if I get capital,” he said.
Now that he has lived his dream of representing the country in football, Masiyazi can afford to dream about many other things.
This time he knows that all things are possible in this life.