Three women in the greater Bloemfontein who are making strides in football, locally and nationally, have earned their stripes. These women of note are retired Banyana Banyana star midfielder Martha “Mamsy” Malaku, current Bloemfontein Celtic player Shiwe Octovia Nogwanya and assistant referee Maneo Tau. In their respective fields they are making waves and continue to raise the country’s flag. The trio was acknowledged by being presented special awards jointly by Interstate Bus Lines (IBL) and the Bloemfontein Local Football Association (LFA), an affiliate of the South African Football Association (Safa). This was done at a recent prize- giving held on 12 August in Bloemfontein. The event paved the way for the start of the association’s new term for 2017. Lehlohonolo Maduna, secretary of the Bloemfontein LFA, said the three women were chosen as outstanding from the rest actively participating in football. He said each of the three recipients remained a source of inspiration. Great heights achieved Malaku (45), also known as Sprinter, received recognition for the strides she made as a coach. She boasts a CAF B licence for coaching. At school, she competed as a 100 m sprinter before deciding on football as her first love.Malaku had a sterling spell as player for the country’s senior women’s team, Banyana Banyana. Her career with the team spans from 1999 to 2006. In 2015, her coaching ability saw her being appointed as head coach of the Bloemfontein Celtic women’s outfit, in the current provincial and national Sasol Women’s League. She had a lengthy stint playing for the now defunct women’s outfit Hill Gunners and later became coach. She also had a stint with the now defunct Bloemfontein Young Tigers women’s team. Nogwanya (23) plays as a striker for Celtic, and the senior national side of Banyana Banyana. Her first call-up to the senior national team was early in 2013 and she made her debut during the Cyprus Cup. She is a regular feature, having played at the 2014 African Women’s Championship in Namibia and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Maneo (25) officiates in the big leagues, including the MultiChoice Diski Challenge League, which features reserve teams of the 16 clubs campaigning in the Premier Soccer League. Last year, the world football governing body, Fifa, accredited her with an assistant referee badge. Maneo began her stint in 2011 when she was recruited by the Safa referees structure in the Mangaung Region. Since then she has climbed the ladder, having officiated at a number of both junior men’s and women’s final competitions.