WATCH | Being on the ball gives Soweto gogos a new lease on life

2019-08-28 19:11
Orlando in Soweto is home to two of South Africa’s biggest sporting giants: Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.  And it seems that the suburb in the south of Johannesburg maybe on the cusp of producing another headlining team. (Screenshot)

Orlando in Soweto is home to two of South Africa’s biggest sporting giants: Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. And it seems that the suburb in the south of Johannesburg maybe on the cusp of producing another headlining team. (Screenshot)

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Orlando in Soweto is home to two of South Africa's biggest sporting giants - Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

Now it seems the suburb in the south of Johannesburg may be on the cusp of producing yet another headlining football team.

Four times a week, a group of gogos from Phefeni gather to fine-tune their skills on the football pitch.

They train on the same dusty ground originally used by Chiefs when the glamour club was formed in 1970.

"We started the football club in 2017 and originally started with four members," the team's founder and coach, Mqusi Manana, told News24. 

They call themselves the Phefeni Gogos Football Club and have since grown to 20 members. 

The gogos are aged between 60 and 75.

The beginning

The spark to start a football team for senior citizens in Phefeni came after a handful of women saw some grannies in Limpopo playing football on TV. 

It was all systems go when they discovered gogos in neighbouring communities such as Dobsonville, Zola, Diepkloof and Rockville had their own teams.

Manana, who had previously coached a youth football team, was tasked with recruiting the gogos.

Ready for a change

"I was the first person to join the team. I was tired of sitting at home. I would just sit and watch TV and movies," Phuti Semenya told News24.

The 75-year-old had been retired for almost a decade and was ready for a change. 

Her dedication and drive led to her being appointed as team captain. 

Semenya and her teammates start their hour-long training session at 7:30am, four times a week. 

Their coach starts the sessions with a series of warm-up exercises.  

"I have to be patient with the gogos and not rush them," Manana said.

His main focus is teaching the women ball control and building up their stamina. 

Practice makes perfect

The gogos' hard work is slowly paying off. 

They have joined the Soweto Senior Citizens Soccer League, which is administered by SAFA.

Every second Wednesday, they play against other gogos. 

"Playing football has improved my health. The aches that I felt before have almost disappeared. My blood pressure has also decreased," Semenya said. 

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Read more on:    soweto  |  football
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