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  • Writer's pictureDr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah

When words fail me and all I have left are my tears...I just want to play football

Updated: Mar 31

(Written 26th March 2024)

When words fail us and tears become our language

When we are so exhausted of fighting, that all that is is left is our tears

When no words can express what you’re feeling and your tears become your voice

Those of us, who have suffered hate, discrimination or racism, know what it’s like

We bear the scars we relive the trauma everyday

Whether it be in the playground, in the classroom, in the workplace, on the football pitch, or caught up in an unjust war

You want to shout, you want to scream you want to say, STOP THE HATE! Stop the pain.

This is not fair!

This is unjust!

You want to plea to these monsters in human form

To plead to their humanity

You look around for someone to help you, but you realise that in these moments you are alone.

This is your fight (even if you did not choose it)

Only you can find the strength, only you can save yourself

You open your mouth ready to speak, wanting to be heard, and in that moment no words can express how you’re feeling.

You look around, you look at THEM, you look at those who could be allies but who choose to be bystanders (but in their silence are complicit)

And you speak to their humanity, human to human.

As the tears stream down your cheeks

You are exhausted, you just want it to stop.

You wipe your tears, you take a deep breath and you get ready to speak

But no sound, no voice

You gasp, you wipe away the tears and try again

All that comes out is a whisper,

A plea

I just want to learn

I just want to breathe

I just want to play football

I want to do right by my family,

I just want to do my job

I want to be able to jog in the park, in my neighbourhood without fear

I want to knock on a neighbour’s door without fear

I want the same respect as my colleague who is white

I want credit for the work I do

I want to survive this operation

I want you to believe me when I say racism exists

I just want …


I don’t want your pity, or your sympathy or your empty promises

I don’t want your policies or your checklists or performative measures

I don’t want your tokenism or your masks of tolerance

I don’t want to hear how you respect everyone regardless of colour


Or that you don't see colour!

I just want things to change

I just want to feel safe

For the pain to stop

I just want to play football

Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?


We see you, we hear you and we felt your pain


Save the date for the EDI Roundtable Event and Six Stages Conference 2024: 28th June.

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