30 August 2022

Joining the boys in the dusty streets of Maganagobuswa, in Siyabuswa, her football aspirations were born when she was merely eight years old. It’s only when she registered at UMP that she played with an all-female team for the first time.

“I am very passionate about sports. I started playing with boys in my neighbourhood,” she says. “When I came to UMP in 2019, that’s when I started playing with other girls. In 2020 I was appointed vice captain of the team and in 2021 I became the captain. Earlier this year I was appointed as the CRC Sports and Recreation officer and felt it would be in the team’s best interest if I stepped down as captain because of the added commitment.”

The UMP Women’s Team was established in 2016 and the team started participating in the USSA Football Institutional Championships in 2017. The team recorded some game time this year having played against CN Mahlangu and also the Siyabuswa Netball team.

“We are currently playing in the SAFA women's league which started early in August. Thus far we’ve played two matches, one against Skinning Ladies United and a second against the Thathazonke Ladies Team,” she says.

The fourth-year student currently coaches the football team with training and match practice. The team’s strategy is based on engagement and communication. She adds that every team responsible for the strategic planning process must be engaged to make it successful.

“The team can be key players within the company whose main purpose is to work in pursuit of common goals of the team. In the strategic planning process, every team member is given a chance to bring something to the table,” she adds.

“Since the input of every member of the strategic planning process is valuable, there must be effective communication else, there will be a problem. Communication lines need to be left open for every team member. The important thing is the relationship I have with the players. When I talk, they listen, and they always try their best to archive each and every task that I give them.”

The midfielder says people are much more inspired when they are trying to achieve a common goal, and the same goes for her team.

“If we are trying to achieve a certain goal such has having ambitions to win a match or tournament, that gives the team a sense of purpose, and a stronger desire to be successful. And this helps up to find a purpose and create the desire within our teams.

“The team won most matches, but it was quite difficult to deal with all the players since all the individuals have different characters and each and every player has their own opinion about how we should play as a team,” she says.

Malapane looks up to former Banyana Banyana skilful midfielder and captain, Portia Modise, who had an interesting journey as a player. “Her story of success has been encouraging. Modise started playing football with the boys in her neighbourhood, in Soweto. She chose football over of netball at school and began playing.

“However, considering that soccer is a sport that requires one to develop through different stages, it’s considered too late to become professional when you are past 23, and I am 23 years old.

Soccer is one of those sports you can't play to your level best when you are past a certain age. But it doesn't mean that I will give up, I will continue pushing until I see that my legs can’t carry me anymore and I don't stand a chance amongst my peers. I will never stop playing soccer.”

Her determination to succeed is what Malapane brings to the UMP Women’s Football team. She is also driven by the recent win and high performance of the South Africa Women National Team.

“Banyana Banyana showed me and my club that we can be like our national team and achieve more as we progress, and it also enlightens us that females can also play and be valuable like our male counterparts.”

The UMP team has also played friendly matches against TUT eMalahleni, Passion FC Ladies Team over the years. In 2018 they played in Nkangala Women’s Tournament and in 2019 and 2022 in the Nkangala Regional Women’s League.

“Since the league started, we haven’t won yet because of a few challenges, as some players registered late and have not receive their cards. But we are looking forward to winning the rest of the games,” she says.

UMP teams are members of the different sports federations and participate in the various leagues: local, district and provincial. The University is also part of Universities Sports South Africa (USSA) and participate in the various USSA Tournaments throughout the year.

Malapane will soon graduate from UMP. She intends to work as a teacher and be a sports coordinator at schools and will focus on sports training.

@ Story by Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.