Sunflower Women’s Football Club team manager Manah Nhlema says the Sasol League has improved the image of women footballers in South Africa.
The KwaZulu-Natal-based outfit finished third in the 2019 Sasol League National Championship with Gauteng’s JVW FC and MaIndies of Limpopo taking the two prized spots.
The side commenced their 2021 Sasol League campaign on a high note defeating the University of KZN 7-0.
Sunflower WFC are also celebrating their 25 years of existence, having been established in 1996 by Siya Malinga, a teacher by profession.
Malinga is described as a person who had a passion for the development of young ones.
“There have been ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs and that is why we are still standing today. We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is, or was a part of this club because we have grown together. There were times when things were tough, but the vision of seeing the young ones off the streets, and doing something meaningful in the community of Hammersdale and surrounding areas, kept the club going. I must admit, the future looks very bright,” said Nhlema, pictured below.
“For us, 2021 is a year of all or nothing. We missed promotion into the Safa National League by a whisker. And how wonderful it would be to celebrate 25 years of this club with a promotion to the higher league.
“We are well aware that it is not going to be easy, especially because we have two streams in KZN. We will take each game as it comes and won’t get ahead of ourselves. What happened in 2019 to win the League is history, but we will use that as inspiration. We are now into a new chapter and we will do our best.”
The team manager admits there is still a lot of room for improvement despite her side keeping the very same squad that lost the Sasol League National Championship.
“Having kept the same players is a plus for us, and that situation has put the coaches at ease and we can try and pick up from where we left off in 2019. But the bottom line is that we still have to play and win – nothing is a foregone conclusion. Only one player left the club – striker Sduduzo Dlamini, who has joined the University of the Western Cape where she is studying,” she added.
Nhlema went on to praise the South African semi-professional women’s league for continuing to strive for change in women’s football.
“To be honest with you, Sasol has made sure that they improve the reputation of women’s football and we can never thank them enough. Previously, no one took notice of women’s football but with them on board, things have changed drastically for women’s football,” she explains.
“We are not where we should be, but we have made serious strides forward. Many people are now taking this League seriously because of what Sasol has done. For them to arrange us playing kit every year is a sign of commitment, and we just have to worry about other things. In essence, half the job of running a club has been done. This also shows that they appreciate us and that means a lot.”
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By Mauwane Raophala