Mozambique’s national women’s football team lost both its matches and scored only one goal at the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo, but the squad got a lot of attention because of its inspirational, 38-year-old captain Maria Mutola. The former 800-meter track star grew up playing soccer against boys, and she got a chance in her home city to show off her football skills again at the African sports festival.
In Mozambique’s 7-1 loss to Algeria, Mutola scored her team’s only goal just before the halftime break. Nicknamed The Maputo Express during her athletic career, Maria now lives in Johannesburg, and she says she’s been playing football the past few years in a South African women’s league.
Mozambique fielded a young and inexperienced women’s team in Maputo that was put together only a few months ago. Mutola says she was called in to bolster the team and she very much enjoyed the opportunity to compete in the biggest sporting event her country has hosted.
Maria Mutola is arguably Mozambique’s biggest sports star. Her athletics career spanned more than 20 years, during which she won three world outdoor titles and seven world indoor titles at 800-meters. She also competed in six Olympics, and at the 2000 Sydney Games became the first and only Mozambican to win an Olympic gold medal when she won the 800-meter final.