Catherine Tembo: Defender against teen pregnancies

“IT hurts me to see girls mess up their football careers when they get pregnant at their peak,” says 17-year-old defender Catherine Tembo.
Catherine, who features for Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) girls’ football team, was left shuttered when her first club, George United, was disbanded due to an influx of unplanned pregnancies by most players.
The 17-year-old’s career was left in jeopardy when the team that comprised talented girls was disbanded last year.
“There were no players. We just remained a few of us who couldn’t even make a team. Most of the girls got pregnant and couldn’t continue playing football. This is a challenge we have as girls to progress with careers like football,” she says.
Catherine’s plight for a girl child is a major concern which should be taken seriously by players themselves.
“For me, I think it is a matter of knowing what you really want in life. I know we face a lot of hurdles but we have to remain strong to achieve our dreams. Some of us follow our dreams with a purpose. We want to use our God-given talent to improve our lives,” she says.
Catherine was born on September 18, 1998 and lives with her parents in Matero township, Lusaka.
She is the first born in a family of four and is in grade 10 at Nelson Mandela Secondary school.
Catherine wants to study law after completing secondary school.
She wants to use football to get a scholarship so she can fulfil her academic dream.
“I want to study law because I want to fight for the rights of a girl child in all aspects,” she says.
Catherine started playing competitive football at George United in 2013.
Previously, she used to play street football mostly with boys.
George United was an
academy that provided for girls and Catherine took advantage of its existence to start playing competitive football.
Unfortunately, the team could not be sustained following an influx of unplanned pregnancies.
After the team was disbanded, Catherine trekked to OYDC.
She is one of the dependable centre-backs for OYDC girls and is also part of the school team.
Catherine is yet to compete internationally but aims to play for the national women’s senior team.
At club level, Catherine is targeting joining Zambia Army-sponsored side Green Buffaloes and has ambitions of playing professional football in England.
Under-20 national team forward Barbara Banda is Catherine’s role model.
Catherine feels Barbara is one of the few determined girls that have a desire to achieve in football.
“Barbara is one of the few women players that inspire me a lot. When she is playing, one can easily tell that she is in the game for a purpose,” she says.
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