Women taking the lead in SA footballThomas Kwenaite
By Andile Dladla and Mandla Dladla
There has been a significant shift in mindset in terms of responsible position allocated to the fairer sex in football where previously, only men were trusted to hold senior if not responsible positions within administration, coaching and management.
One such woman that is making significant strides in changing the narrative and the role played by women is Goitseoone Nche, who finds herself juggling two positions within the Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies Team as fitness trainer and Team Manager.
Her journey began during 2019 when she was given a chance to work with the DSTV Diski Challenge team to learn more about responsibilities and managing a team while dealing with footballers both on and off this pitch as she was earmarked to take charge of the ladies team as a fitness trainer on a permanent basis.
“Celtic management has done a good job in terms of making sure that the ladies are playing league football and our chairman Mr Max Tshabalala has been good leader to everyone,” said Nche. “He always looks for solutions to problems as he’s focused on positive things.
Celtic and Mamelodi Sundowns are the only teams participating in the fledging National League for women whose major men teams make up the professional Premiership in the country.
But with no football played at all throughout 2020 it has obviously impacted the growth of women football in terms of people coming to the stadiums to see the team playing weekly.
“Some of the fans having been sending messages to the coaches enquiring about when competition would be resumed so they can enjoy the action personally at the stadiums. People want to see big games when we play teams from Gauteng like Mamelodi Sundowns.”
She recalls the first time she was involved with the team at the Nike Centre in Pimville Soweto, the site of Celtics supporters in the stands attired in their team colours was a great feeling because it showed that people take them as a club seriously.
Our senior men team has been playing continental football in the CAF Confederation Cup and so it is important to work hard by staying fit at all times because the competition demands players that are physically and mentally fit for Pan-African games.
CAF has endorsed a decision to establish a CAF Champions League competition for women and the winner of the SA Women National League was also supposed to feature in the inaugural Champions League and possibly even the three top teams in each country.
But obviously the Covid-pandemic played havoc with the proposed plan and it has been put on hold, at least for the time being. However, Nche believes that a continental competition for women could go a long way towards fast tracking the improvement and development of women football across the continent.
“If I had the opportunity to go and work in other parts of the world, I would grab such an opportunity and never look back,” said Nche. For players to be inactive for such a long time has not been easy for everyone involved.
What exacerbate the issue is the fact that most players in the Celtic team are not permanent residence in the city of roses and the majority stay far from Bloemfontein.
“We hope the pandemic eases down and authorities allow us to return to action and it has been torture just sitting at home and not knowing when we would get back to action,” she added.
Celtic finished third behind champions Mamelodi Sundowns (64 points) and TUT Ladies (55 points) while Siwelele Ladies amassed 44 points, a far cry from the team that won the championship the previous year.