Zambian Soccer Star Norin Betani Dies From Malaria Days Before Olympic Qualifier

Published 02/26/2024, 7:01 AM EST

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Zambian soccer experienced a tragic loss just before the Olympic qualifier when 24-year-old Norin Betani passed away due to malaria. This unexpected event cast a shadow of grief over the upcoming match against Ghana in the 2024 Paris Olympic women’s qualifier, deeply affecting Betani’s teammates and the entire football community.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) officially announced Betani’s passing on Wednesday morning. Initially diagnosed with suspected malaria, Betani’s condition worsened rapidly, resulting in her untimely demise.

Sydney Mungala, the communications manager of FAZ, shared her deepest sympathies over the tragic loss of Betani. She also acknowledged her significant contributions to the provisional squad in preparation for the Olympic qualifiers. “She only fell out of the final team due to illness. We can only imagine how her teammates feel at this hour and hope that they can honour her memory with victory in Ghana in a match she had hoped to be part of,” she said.


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Initially doubts were cast over the match between Ghana and Zambia in the ‘Confederation of African Football Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.’ But ultimately, they played the game and Zambia won 1-0, making Norin Betani proud.

An integral part of Zambia’s Women’s Super League club, Indeni Roses, Betani had consistently demonstrated her talent throughout the 23/24 season. She showcased her prowess through her ability to score goals, with four goals to her name, showcasing her ability as a formidable footballer.

Betani’s remarkable skills were evident in her final match against YASA Queens, highlighting the potential she brought to the team. Her footballing abilities underscored the promising future she embodied for the team.


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The show must go on

As Zambia prepares for the second leg of the third-round qualifier, the memory of Norin Betani will undoubtedly loom large, serving as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the enduring spirit of sportsmanship.

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Though Betani may no longer be on the pitch with her teammates, her legacy lives on, inspiring them to strive for victory in her honor and carry her spirit forward with every match they play. In a press-conference, the team skipper, Barbra Banda said, “We are trying to pull ourselves together. We know it’s happened, and we’re just hoping now that it doesn’t affect our game and we have a reason why we’re here, we have a task ahead of us.” 


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Losing a young striker in an all-important Olympic qualifier can dampen many spirits. The Zambian team will strive to use their grief to build towards a great performance. A victory in the next game could be the perfect gift to their late and talented teammate.


Written by:

Allen James


One take at a time

Allen James is a writer at EssentiallySports who covers Cycling, MotoGP, Combat sports, and other trending moments in the sports realm. With a degree in mass communication, Allen is putting his learnings to the best use in covering a wide array of viral topics. He loves diving into the conversations surrounding his work, soaking up the various perspectives out there, and then using them as inspiration in his craft. It’s this very curiosity that turns him into a bonafide sports nerd!
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad