It was difficult to deal with the lockdown situation. We could not practice or play friendlies because of the limitations on us.
THE ONGOING Covid-19 pandemic that has engulfed the country has saddled Diamond Ladies football club with the unexpected headache of having to deal with the unexpected loss of six players due to pregnancies, thanks to the league’s inactivity over the lockdown period.
Club founder and manager Mbulelo Jack said he was at his wits end on how to deal with the situation. The set up was especially problematic for him seen that not many female players randomly come around making enquiries on joining soccer teams. This contrasted starkly with male dominated teams where clubs pick up especially seasoned players almost at will.
“It was difficult during the total lockdown. Currently the team has lost six players to pregnancy. They can’t come back because they have babies now. They were idle during the lockdown period. The total lockdown got to them and they busied themselves with other matters and this result popped up,” Jack said.
Diamond Ladies are one of the relatively new entrants to the Local Football Association. They were established as a club in 2013 and signed up with the LFA in 2018. They have a senior team in the provincial Sasol League and a junior ladies outfit that campaigns in the LFA.
Jack is particularly worried about how the club will cope without those players especially in light of the league reopening again for tournaments. “Next month we have planned a pre-season tournament for 6 March before the league restarts.Our preparations are going to be hampered by the absence of these ladies.”
Ace Mofokeng founder and manager of Royal Wizards Ladies FC said: “It was difficult to deal with the lockdown situation. We could not practice or play friendlies because of the limitations on us. We gave our players activity programmes to do while at home to keep them busy and fit during the period.
“Unlike the professional teams we lack resources to monitor the players and check whether they do as told. In the Professional Soccer League (PSL) for instance, they had systems whereby they could monitor players remotely. With us that was not possible with the result that upon the return of the players we noted high levels of unfitness which meant many of them did not do as we had advised.”
Mofokeng said Wizards were lucky that none of its players got Covid or pregnant even though he was personally affected at some point. “My team is still intact despite the recent lay lows.”
Wizards have teams in both the Sasol and Safa Frances Baard Regional league.
“We are currently waiting on a meeting that will take place in Upington soon to decide on the Sasol league schedule. That fixture list will help us decide on the schedule of matches for our junior team,” Mofokeng told the DFA.
Elsewhere, Galeshewe Ladies FC is one team whose fortunes have been negatively affected by the lockdown. Its status in either the Sasol Womens’ League or the Safa Frances Baard Regional league is uncertain.
The club founder and manager Dickson “Makua” Mathobela passed away in the midst of the lockdown period in August 2020. The family representative holding the fort, Phemelo Mzondeki, said a few of the club’s veteran players had approached the family with a proposal to keep the team as a going concern.
The family and the club veterans had agreed to discuss the issue further but feedback from the former players has dried up.
The Frances Baard Regional League offices were unoccupied when the DFA visited this week and calls to the administrator Ponatshego Mondela went unanswered.