Famous photographer uses soccer to empower women in her community

2010-02-20 00:00

WORLD famous photographer Zanele Muholi is on a mission to empower women by encouraging them to participate in sport.

Muholi, who was born and bred in Umlazi south of Durban, is the founder of Thokozani Football Club (TFC), a team made up of black lesbian women who display a passion for soccer.

Named after Thokozani Qwabe, a young woman who was brutally murdered in Lady­smith in 2007, the team is currently playing in the Absa league and is a South African Football Association-registered team.

The club is made up of 21 women ranging in age from 18 to 41 years.

Muholi told Weekend Witness that she always dreamt of gi­ving back to the community she loves.

“I wanted to do something for the community. I understood the struggle of being a young black woman and growing up in a township,” she said.

She said she wanted to pay tribute to the young women in her community and wanted to use the soccer team to expose the talent of these women.

“It’s a way of remembering my roots; most people leave their townships and forget where they came from. I deci­ded that it was time someone did something.”

Muholi’s sister, Lizzy, mana­ges the team when she is away. It is funded by Muholi from her own earnings.

“It’s quite expensive to run the team. We are not funded because we are a female team. That makes me sad. Female soccer players are not recognised in this country,” she said.

With the World Cup around the corner, Muholi said it was the perfect time to recognise women’s contribution to sport.

“There is democracy when it comes to sport in South Africa. People like me exist and there should be equal opportunities,” she said.

Muholi believes that government should provide more assistance and funding to female athletes.

“Due to the lack of funding, talent is being wasted. Something needs to be done.”

She said she hoped that through soccer, she could help make a difference in the lives of young woman who struggle with homophobia and violence in their community.

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