She dreams of becoming first PSL Goalkeeper coachThomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla & Mandla Dladla
Elizabeth Ropafadzo Mazivise has always had an undying love for sports while growing up, having first played cricket, hockey and netball during her formative years.
But the one sporting code that stood out head and shoulders above the rest has always been the beautiful game of football and it was the one thing that she didn’t need to induct herself into as it just became a natural fit.
“I was in my early teens and we had a cricket game so I ditched my team as there was a football game and they needed someone to just stand in the poles,” she recalls.
“What helped tremendously was that in cricket I was a wicket-keeper and so it was kind of easy for me to adapt so I stood.
“At the end of the game, my high school teacher said there and there that I am staying in football as a goalkeeper. I tried playing as an infield player but being in poles was like a calling.
“There aren’t many female goalkeepers so I’m going to drill you guys until I turn you into monsters in football,” said my coach.
Ropafadzo’s journey has been a challenging one. She never tells people this except her teammates or the ones that are new and still struggling.
“I always say that I think I went through a lot of struggles because it was my first year in ‘varsity and also being promoted to the first team in 2018.
“I don’t think I struggled as a goalkeeper but I was just not getting a lot of game time and did not play the whole of that season in the SASOL League.
“As an international student it was difficult for me to get registered and would train very hard and then during the 2019 season it was still the same case.
“That is the year that we were eventually promoted to the Hollywoodbets Super League but I was still not getting any game time.
“I could only be registered for the ‘Varsity Cup so in those two seasons those were the only games I played at the time.
“It was very challenging I won’t lie. Then the Covid-19 pandemic happened but we could play as we had the right papers. I only made my debut in Limpopo during 2020 against First Touch Ladies and from there the competition level went up.
“From there I started getting a lot more game time and growing more to understand that there’s more to my potential. Different coaches came and the competitiveness was there and I was just having fun.
“Coach Anna Monate made me part of the captains and I accepted the challenge to learn, go through with it. The experience groomed me into the player that I didn’t think I’d become today.”
Being vertically challenged and probably the shortest goalkeeper in the league has always been another challenge for Elizabeth and would find herself standing in the tunnel with her teammates and opponents would already be saying things like she’s short and they will score a lot of goals.
Later on you work on those things and it doesn’t bother you anymore. Working with coach Monate was a privilege. The former Banyana Banyana player opened her eyes to football and taught her more about the game.
“But there are not enough opportunities for female footballers to make a living out of the game yet and that is why you find a lot of us playing and studying at the same time.
“If there are opportunities for you to study then you should grab it with open arms. But at the same time football has the ability to open more doors and offer you more opportunities through scholarships so you have to find the balance.
“I studied sports Psychology and after completion branched into honours in sports science. After my fifth year of studying I then got a job with a team in the Motsepe Foundation Championship in LA Masia FC as a strength and conditioning coach.
“It is demanding to work for a professional club while playing and to be honest I always wanted to be in football. I’m even starting with my coaching licenses so that later in my life I can give back to the game.”
She supports Stellenbosch FC is the team in the PSL because they are so similar to the team she play for as they are a young team mixed with experience and the style of play is one for the future.
“I’ve been a product of patience and while being patient it’s also very important to put in the hard work. If the big break doesn’t come then you need to know that good things always take time to materialise. You also need to be passionate and surround yourself with people who have been there before.
Her major ambition is to become the first female and youngest Goalkeeper Coach in the PSL.