Young Expendables staying strong during lockdown

Young Expendables team photo before a game

The lockdown has affected many athletes, including Sasol League teams around the country. Hartebeespoort’s newest Sasol League team, Young Expendables are taking all necessary steps in making sure that they stay fit and prepared for the future. The team which consists of three coaches; Mr Johannes Motshegisi, Mr Godfrey Tekane and Miss Jenifer Mafikeng, is dedicated to a daily exercise routine to keep all players active.

Team owner and manager Mr Japhta Lelaka said, “The lockdown is difficult for all of us especially athletes. At the beginning of the lockdown, our coaches sent players a programme to help them keep fit and healthy during this time. At the end of the lockdown, we will also conduct a fitness test which will help us see how well the players are and how much work we need to put into fitness and training. I myself keep in contact with players through phone calls, social media and often advise them to stay safe and prepare for the journey ahead post the lockdown.”

The Young Expendables which was established in June 2017 consists of 24 players between the ages of 10 and 34. After being promoted to the Sasol League for the first time in late 2019, Lelaka admits that it was a dream come true, “Most people in the community did not believe in the team so it felt good to win and prove them wrong. After the team qualified for the 2020 season, my wife and I prepared meals for the players at my house and we all celebrated together. We were so proud of them.”

Now in its 11th year, the Sasol League has helped unleash the talent of young women footballers nationwide. The league is one way in which Sasol continues to show their dedication and commitment to women’s football.

“Once the league resumes, we want to pick up where we left off and maintain our status. Our goal is to compete and make our way to the National League. We also want to see our players represent the province and play for the women national teams such as Banyana Banyana,” said Lelaka.

“Like any other community, we face a lot of challenges such as drugs and teenage pregnancy, however through sport we have seen players focus more on their goals. As a former SAPS member, I know the challenges we face in the community, which is why I continue on this mission to make our community better,” he added. For most Sasol League teams, transportation is a challenge especially when it comes to away matches. While most owners do their best to support the teams, Lelaka admits that working together has helped them accomplish more, “Everyone is on the same page and we are all pursuing the same dream. What makes us limitless is the fact that we are the only women’s team in Madibeng municipality participating at this level. We want to prove to the community that we can achieve more and become one of the best teams in the league,” he concluded.