Text by Siba Nkumbi
Photos by Lindeka Qampi
Let me begin this one with a question: Why is it that in the history of South African women’s football, in fact women’s sports, we still have male coaches?
Show me a female who coaches a professional men’s team in SA?
There is also the matter with female players being underpaid or not paid at all. These questions and many more, inevitably run through your head as a woman, who supports women in sport.
I’m talking about the Sasol Women’s League, the biggest league in SA women’s football. Mehlareng Stadium located in Tembisa, Johannesburg, was packed with supporters on the 10th of August 2015.
The weather was nice and hot, a good day for a spectacular game. A smile appeared on my face when I realized that half of the fans were the opposite sex. It is good being supported and recognized, especially during women’s month. However, a thought crossed my mind, I imagined how lovely it would be for all the males running things for women to sit back and let women do things for themselves, we are extremely powerful and capable.
On arrival in Tembisa, the host township of the match, it was exactly 13:25 pm. The match was already in motion; fans were going wild, joyous and singing songs supporting their teams, who are amongst the biggest clubs in Jozi, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies and the Palace Super Falcons Ladies (PSF). The two teams were battling it out. The first half was intense, each team doing their best to defend their names and playing hard enough to go to the next round of the league.
When the first half ended it was still 0-0. The pressure was on, coaches were restless, each giving strategies for the 2nd half. It wasn’t until a few minutes into the second when Jersey No.9 from Sundowns scored the first goal of the match against the Falcons. A trusted striker of Sundowns Rhoda Mulaudzi blew us all away with a spectacular goal. Falcons fans felt the sadness but didn’t give up, they sang louder to support their team in a time of despair.
Meanwhile, Sundowns were excited, ladies were screaming and brothers blew whistles celebrating the first goal of the match. Falcon’s players were panicking and determined for an equalizer. They pushed harder, not knowing that Mulaudzi had an ace up her sleeve. She used their vulnerable moment to her advantage and struck again with goal number 2 for her team.
That was a moment of fame for the ladies of Sundowns; they started to smell their victory. At that point the PSF coach was sweating, it became evident that he was feeling the stress of his team losing and the goalkeeper was feeling the frustration as well. Sundowns didn’t stop attacking as the opposition was beginning to feel the pressure. Falcons lost hope when the last goal of the match hit the back of the net. The unstoppable striker also scored the third goal for Sundowns. Mulaudzi in her Jersey No.9 was the hero of the day to the fans, teammates and coach. Five minutes after the hat trick the whistle was blown, ending the match.
The talent on the field amazed me. Both teams did their best, the game was well played and the players were disciplined. Mkhelele (Jersey No.2) from Falcons got a yellow card; there weren’t any injuries or red cards. It was a battle of the fittest and at the end the best team won. Thanks to the unstoppable Mulaudzi for bringing victory to her team. Without her teammates it wouldn’t have been possible. Well done to both teams, let’s keep on playing for the love of the game.
To top it all off, the game was on point with ambulances on standby in the field and the team from Endulwini fire station were ready for emergencies. Thankfully, it came to my attention that some departments do care about female sports; I suppose some progress is being made. As members of the LGBTI society, it is our duty to make sure that women in sports are getting the respect, recognition and are being taken good care of.
Dusty streets of Tembisa? I beg to differ. Townships hold the golden women in sports, they do not only play soccer for the love of the game, it’s every player’s life and daily bread for some. We breathe, talk and eat Diski. We had one woman amongst the match officials; assistant number two, Diatile Malefane. The remaining officials were, referee Mr. Mokwebo and Assistant one, Jetro Mdleni. We’re off to a good start; the future looks bright for women in sport. The final score was 3-0 to Sundowns.
“A game between Falcons and us is always a tough one, I’m glad we won against them and we are looking forward to the play offs in the nationals,” revealed Rhoda Mulaudzi, Sundowns striker.
Another Sundowns player, Thandi Nkosi from Soweto, stated that it was a big day for Sundowns. They (Falcons) beat them last season, so it was only right for Sundowns to go home with a 3-0 win.
Daniel, head coach of the Palace Super Falcon said that the game was tough and admitted how sad he was for the loss but admitted that the best team won.
“It’s very difficult to work with ladies, what I like about my team is that they are young, and ladies soccer in South Africa is very big. There is a stipend that is there for the ladies to keep them going, but I believe if Sasol or SAFA itself could have a professional team for the ladies, the league will grow,” Jerry Tshabalala coach of Sundowns.
“I’m fully involved in the sports industry, as we know that this is women’s month and we wish and dream that women’s sport in South Africa could grow. Currently, women’s football is starting to develop. I’m happy that the national team, Banyana Banyana has a female coach, Vera Pauw, she’s doing a great job for the country at the moment. Today’s game was good, football is growing, football is fast and girls are developing. LGBTI is living and existing in the sport industry,” said Noluntu Makalima.
In retrospect, when it comes to media, we have a shortage of broadcasting in the country. For the girls to grow and the girls to get paid, soccer must not only be recognized at the national level. Local football must also be recognized so that women’s football can grow. Women’s football is supported in the townships, it is up to us to take it further by being active. There won’t be any rest until women are completely recognized and respected nationally and internationally in sports.