By Buyeleni Sibanyoni (3 mins read)
The Womandla League, a women’s football league of eight, is at its second season following the debut kick off in 2018.
Last year, Ikhayalethu Ladies Football Club scooped the silverware while the runner up was the Mafinikio Football Club.
The eight teams include the Sophia Ladies, Ikhayalethu Ladies Football Club, City Waldorf Ladies Football Club, Mafinikio Football Club, Mosate RRR, Karibu Jamii Ulwazi and Truman Ladies.
For the 2019 season, Sophia Ladies claimed the top prize with 19 points after 7 games, winning 6 games and only losing one.
Kagiso Mdakane, Sophia Ladies’ coach, said, “we did not come here just to play around and waste our time; we came here to be at least league challengers”.
In the 2018 season, Sophia Ladies ended the league in the 4th position.
“We had more players to pick this year. We started practice early, had more team talks and the players were more committed,” said Mdakane.
“Sometimes we could not practice for the time we wanted to practice for because of academics; they are a priority.
“Fitness and communication within the team was also a challenge. We had players playing football for the first time in their lives,” added Mdakane when highlighting some of the challenges the team faced this season.
The defending champion, Ikhayalethu Ladies Football Club, was denied an opportunity for a brace. They were runner-up with 16 points after 7 games, having one draw, a loss and winning five games.
Newcomer Ulwazi finished in the 7th position after playing 7 games, winning 1, drawing 2 and losing 4 games. The team ended up with a total of 5 points by the end of the season.
When asked why they entered the league this season, Lebogang Mamabolo – house committee of Sports, Arts and Culture at Ulwazi residence – said, “It was unfair for my res’ to specifically focus on netball.”
For the entire league, “there were only a few challenges. Transport issues for the only Soweto team and poor officiating by our referees; it is our biggest worry as we use individuals who claim they know the job,” said Loyo Khuzwayo, chairperson of UJ internal sports leagues.
Speaking about the name of the league, Womandla, Loyo said, “We decided ‘why not call it womandla’ as a way of empowering women in sport”.
One of the league’s goals is to expose interested female football players to a platform that showcases their skills in the hopes of them playing for UJ’s first team. So far, a total of 5 to 9 players were called up to the first team.
The league is mainly marketed through word of mouth and the matches are communicated through the UJ Campus Football League (UJCFL) website, resulting to very low attendance.
In Between the league matches, the ladies also participate in knock-out competitions: Stigma Tournament and Student Representative Council Cup. These were both won by Ikhayalethu Ladies Football Club.
With the 2020 season expected to kick off in February, twelve teams currently stand as official participants in the Womandla League.
Any other team that wants to participate may apply through the student led internal sports management.
There is no cut-off-age or limit regarding the number of international students who can play for one team. The main requirement is for the player to be a registered UJ student. TOJ
Reporting by Buyeleni Sibanyoni; Editing by Kupakwashe Kambasha and Gaby Ndongo. Feature image obtained from Pixel.