Based on the performance of his young players at the inaugural She-Bobo junior girls soccer festival at UWC, at the weekend, Tramway coach Harold “Potz Johnson has every reason to believe the youngsters are the future of women’s football in South Africa.
Potz’ tiny troopers were among 280 junior players representing 12 community clubs from across the city taking part in what can be considered a first for young girls in Cape Town.
The event presented an ideal opportunity for the little ones to display their skill and for Potz and other coaches to sprout a few unwanted grey hairs. Teams from Bellville to Blikkiesdorp and Salt River to Southfield took to the field, but ultimately it was Khayelitsha’s RV United who won the under-10 division and Gugulethu’s Cape Town Roses the under-8 section.
Saturday’s action kick-started the launch of a league catering for young girls.
“The event was amazing for the girls. Some of the girls have been coached by me for four years and this was the first time they’ve ever played against girls-only teams. They were absolutely buzzing and excited throughout the day. Also the fact that they got to meet Temple Boys CPT helped,” said Johnson, who has been with the Southfield-based side for seven years.
Of course, an appearance by Temple Boys CPT, Cape Town’s musical flavour of the moment, is guaranteed to halt any proceedings but it provided just the kind of energy needed on the pitch where the real stars of the day put up a performance of their own.
And, with coaches barking instructions from the sidelines, some of their charges did their own thing, often to good effect, while others, like Tramway’s Minathi Mathanzima, 8, moved the ball around with the deft touch of a more experienced player. A thorn in the side of the defence, this pocket rocket knows exactly where to place the ball when in front of goal.
“I feel it’s important to create an environment for girls to play with other girls to keep their interest in the sport. I’ve seen throughout my coaching experience that often girls are put into boys’ teams and are either excluded or treated as a ‘by the way’ team member.
“By giving young girls an opportunity we’ve seen some of them excel in the sport. Currently we have two former Tramway girls in the SA under-17 setup, one of them is playing in the National Women’s League and then we have a handful of them playing in the SASOL League, the top women’s league in the Western Cape. That’s all because they were given a proper opportunity to play soccer,” Johnson said.
“This event opened many people’s eyes about girls’ soccer. It created excitement among parents, coaches and more importantly, the girls. Some of them never thought they’d ever play against a girls’ team at this age. Long may this continue,” he said.
• Cape Community Newspapers, which publishes this title, is the print media partner of She-Bobo at UWC.