On a grassy field in Mshewe village, among the hills of Mbeya Region, a group of ladies put aside their day’s work for a few games of football. But it’s not the only exercise they came together for today.

Mshewe village is in the Safwa language area. These women are a local amateur football team, founded by Amani Mwandezi, a Literacy and Scripture Engagement worker. They meet regularly, not only to play football but also to practice reading in their language. They use Scripture portions they get from Mwandezi and the Safwa translation project.

Recently, Mwandezi and the team traveled to another village. Their goal was to encourage women there to do the same — to set up their own football team, combining gameplay with time to read God’s Word, and learn how to read with their families.

“The villagers were happy to hear of this plan,” said Mwandezi. “Even the village leaders strongly encouraged the ladies to join. This way, they can learn the Word of God and also improve their physical health.” Many women signed up to join the new team. They also wanted Safwa books.

“We will do this in every Safwa village,” Mwandezi added, “so that God’s Word can have power there. Then people will know God more, and they will be changed.”

This story was written for SIL Tanzania by:

Kenny Grindall (Communications Coordinator)

SIL International is a global partner among academic and professional organisations which offer language development services. SIL works alongside speakers of more than 1,700 languages in over 100 countries. Active in Tanzania since 1989, the organization makes its services available to all without regard to religious belief, political ideology, gender, race or ethnolinguistic background.

photo, top: A women’s amateur football team plays, and also reads Scripture together in Safwa language.

photo above, left: In addition to the physical exercise of gameplay, the ladies work on their Safwa literacy skills by reading together from Scripture.

photo above, center: The Mshewe ladies’ football team gets a Safwa literacy lesson from Amani Mwandezi, who founded the team.

photo above, right: As a local amateur football team, the ladies get coaching from Mwandezi, who also helps them learn to read using Safwa Scriptures.

all photos: Alison Ngallaba