Taking a breather after a heavy training session, Elizabeth Maseswa recalls how she was kicked out of her Harare home for revealing her HIV status before finding a new family on the football field.
"Five years ago, my own mother disowned me and ordered me out of the house. I had no one to turn to before I joined the team," said 26-year-old Maseswa, the skipper of the table-topping ARV Swallows.
"Playing football helps me a lot, it relieves stress and we share our problems as a team."
The ARV (Anti-retroviral drugs) Swallows are one of 16 teams all made up HIV-positive women formed by veteran football administrator Chris Sambo.
Other teams include Stigma Eradicated and Virus Ambassadors, whose players have forged a family-like bond which should be the envy of some of the teams who have exited the World Cup in neighbouring South Africa.
In a country which is not only in the eye of the AIDS pandemic's storm but also suffered severe food shortages during a prolonged economic crisis, such solidarity and companionship is vital.
"Sometimes I have lacked even basics like salt, but once I tell my teammates they help me out and also get me things I haven't even mentioned," said Maseswa. "We share each other's burdens."
Apart from the camaraderie, players say the football had made them fitter.
"I now feel like (former Zimbabwe footballer) Peter Ndlovu," said Maseswa's 29-year-old teammate Deliwe Murwira.
"My sister-in-law used to sing about my HIV status saying all sorts of insults, but all that has changed when I started playing football.
"Some people did not want to share a bottle of water with me, I could not walk here without fingers being pointed at me, but this has changed because I am footballer."
Sambo, a former fixtures secretary secretary for Zimbabwe's Professional Soccer League, said he came up with the idea of forming a league for HIV-positive women to cash in on football's appeal.
"Realising that football is a sport which attracts a very large following and for the purposes of demystifying HIV/AIDS, I decided to form a league of HIV/AIDS positive ladies," he told AFP.