Soccer trials were held for women over the age of 60 at the Heideveld sportsfield last week to select a national team set to play in the Elderly Women’s Soccer World Cup in France in June.
Members of the Proteaville Fitness Club’s soccer squad were among the players showcasing their skill on the pitch. Although tasked with picking five players from the province, the selectors jotted down the names of 20 players who put up their hands.
They may not have pace, speed and skill, but the players who turned up on the day had heart, which is exactly what the selectors were looking for.
The group of 20 gogos selected will be narrowed down to a final five on Thursday, April 21, who will then play against other SA provinces before the final squad of 20 is chosen.
The trials were attended by former SA professional footballers in both men’s and women’s categories, youngsters who came to support the gogos as well as the Safa Western Cape technical team.
SA Elderly Women’s team coordinator, Josina Tellie, said the turnout of elderly women was more than what they had expected. She said the team is competitive but, they will have to deal with other provincial teams from Gauteng, KZN and Eastern Cape.
“So far, the Western Cape has been excellent. There’s also Gauteng that we will be going to next. They are competitive because they have a soccer league that is running for the elderly,” she said.
Tellie said the elderly are an inspiration to their peers and to the youngsters.
“If you have a dream of being a soccer player just look up to the elderly because if they can do it, you can do it.
“Even if you think you can’t play soccer go to trials because they may see something you can’t.
“Right now, the elderly need support from the corporate sector and everyone because some need to take care on their grandchildren, take care of their health and there is no better way than doing this by playing soccer,” she said.
Metro Senior Female’s Soccer Club’s Sharon Laing said she has been a part of women’s football for more than 12 years in the province, but, this is the first time such an initiative has been done for the gogos and 10 of her players were selected.
She said the trials were very well organised and well attended.
“It is a team of very young 60 year olds. If we can make it to France, I know there is a bright future because we are still going to play in the province. Like SAFA promised, they will be with us all the way,” she said.
Laing said this is one of the inspirations for communities to follow a healthy and fit lifestyle.
“They (youngsters) need to stay healthy, eat well and exercise. They really need to look at the 60+ that play soccer and are running. They need to focus to become something one day,” said Laing.
Safa Western Cape’s technical officer, Marion February, said Thursday, April 21, is the final trial selection in the province. On April 25, they will have submitted the last five names. And on June 3, the team will embark for France.
“There were men’s legends, ex professionals and Banyana Banyana players who came to support. The initiative towards this is based on building up a squad ahead of the World Cup in France.
“They wanted to have something a little different rather than youngsters but with the elderly,” she said.
February said they are putting togetheranover-35leaguefor women.
“We are doing this to equal the men’s league, to create awareness of the elderly women in society while keeping them healthy,” she said.
February said they are trying to bridge the gap in football development for women in the province.
“We have the under-17, under-20 and national teams. We want to say to the under-13s up until the under-17s girls that they can also do it.
“This is to inspire and show them that there are many avenues they can go into. We don’t want them to get lost in the system but to have an alternative route.
“We want to educate the coaches too with the Vision2022 plan that Safa has of reaching 32 000 coaches,” said February.