Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa
20 min • Society, Sport & Adventure • 2018
Rebecca Ntsanwisi, known at “Mama Beka” is from Limpopo in rural South Africa. In 2003 she was diagnosed with colon cancer and while battling the disease, became determined to do something to benefit elderly women in her village. She found many of the women in her community exhausted from physical ailments, caring for grandchildren and from years of poverty and living under continued threats of violence. With limited resources, she encouraged the grandmothers (up to 84 years) to gather at the towns soccer field for aerobics. Despite their mature age, the team fully embraces the game and intensive workout regime and training drills, under the instruction of Coach Jack. They discover that the practices also allow them to face personal histories of physical abuse, neglect and the loss of loved ones.