The Merwe United Ladies team based in Merwe, a village in Malamulele is ready to reclaim their spot in the Sasol League. After returning to the league late last year, the team is determined to face top competition in the Sasol League 2020 season. Founded by Ms Basani Macevele, Merwe United Ladies was established in 2009 and is made up of twenty-two players between the ages of fourteen and thirty.
“We are very excited to be back in the Sasol League after being relegated in 2013. It has always been our dream to play in the league and getting that opportunity again means a lot to the team. We are from a village and we carry a lot of dreams for a girl child playing football,” said Ms Macevele.
The Sasol League has helped unleash the talent of young women footballers nationwide, such as Limpopo born Noko Matlou, Lebogang Ramalepe and Rhoda Mulaudzi who play for Banyana Banyana. Now in its 11th year, the league is one way in which Sasol continues to show their dedication and commitment to women’s football.
For a small team in a village, the Merwe United Ladies have undoubtedly contributed positively to their community through football. “Because of football and sports in general, we have seen girls refrain from drugs, teenage pregnancy and focussing more on setting their life goals. We always encourage them to work hard and study; currently we have girls in the team who have graduated and are now working,” said Ms Macevele.
Due to the country being on lockdown, sport has been put on hold and most players have had to find ways to keep themselves active during this time.
Disappointed to be off the field, Macevele said, “This is a difficult time for everyone because all we want to do is play in the Sasol League. We have no choice but to comply and we will wait no matter how long it takes. We are fortunate to have Hitekani Hlungwani who is a qualified coach. She has given the girls training programmes so they can exercise from home. We also have a group chat where we check on the players and keep each other motivated to stay fit and healthy.”
Hoping to get back onto the field soon after the lockdown, Macevele added, “Our goal is to maintain our status and make sure we don’t repeat what happened in 2013. Hopefully in a couple of years we will be competing with some of the big teams such as Sisters FC and Moria Sweepers. We also aim to compete on a national level and see our girls play for the U-17, U-20 and Banyana Banyana.” The team which is run by women has faced some financial challenges and hopes to get a sponsor soon. “We are a team from the village, so it’s difficult to attract sponsors. We often use money from our pockets to cover costs and soldier on. I believe that we are limitless because we carry the dream of a village girl who wants to play for Banyana Banyana one day. We are the only girls’ team in the Collins Chabane Municipality and we keep believing that a village does not determine our future when it comes to football and education,” she concluded.