Senior soccer players off to France

Four local pensioners were given a fitting send-off as they make their way to the Senior Citizen’s Soccer World Cup in France.

Sabrina Ruiters, 60, from Kewtown, Judy Sims, 60, from Bridgetown, Lea Norton, 63, from Belhar, and Susan Wilson, 66, from Lentegeur, were honoured at a ceremony hosted by the Local Organising Committee on Wednesday June 5 at the Vangate Sports Complex.

The four women represent the Metro Seniors Female Soccer Club (MSFSC), which was only established late last year. On Monday June 10, they made their way to France to represent South Africa at the Senior Citizens Soccer World Cup.

Sharon Lang, manager of the soccer club, said it had not been easy to get to this point.

“When we started the club in November last year, we had nothing. I would like to salute all our soccer players. We had a squad
of 23 and the qualifying trials had 60 seniors competing at the Heideveld Sports Ground. This
was history in the making for Heideveld. We now boast with
a soccer gear thanks to Ambassadors Soccer Club, who kindly donated it to us. It’s really a milestone that four ladies will be representing us. I would also
like to thank the families for
their support, as they had to
pay for their own visas, which
was R1 490 each, and we all know how much the state pension
is. They also had to pay for their return tickets to Johannesburg, but at the last minute we got a sponsorship for that,” Ms Lang said.

Ward 44 councillor, Anthony Moses, said as councillors, they dedicate this year to the seniors.

“I am so excited for this development. Yes, we are faced with challenges and lots of development needs to be done, but the constitution dictates to us that we need to deliver to our people. As seniors, you should not view us, when we do our work, as doing a favour for you. It is your constitutional right to receive service delivery. I would like to urge our communities also to make use of our recreational facilities. There is a reason for these facilities and it must be utilised,” Mr Moses said.

Ms Ruiters said this is an amazing opportunity for her.

“I knew nothing about soccer. I was a Western Province Netball player and sprinter. I did not even know if I should kick the ball with my foot or toe. I had no technique, but I started watching soccer at Athlone Stadium,” Ms Ruiters said.

Ms Sims jokingly said the furthest she had ever been was Franschhoek. She added that she was very excited, but nervous at the same time.

Ms Wilson said although this was her first time playing soccer, she had always been passionate about the sport, as she always watched it with her sons and grandsons.

“I thank God for this opportunity. Sharon (Ms Lang) has been a pillar of strength to us. This just shows once again, that one is never too old to learn,” Ms Wilson said.

Ms Norton said she used to play soccer in her teens, and the first time she played as a pensioner, she scored three goals.

“This is a new door opening for us. I would never have believed I would go to France at this age,” she said.

Marion February, the provincial technical officer of the South African Football Association (SAFA), explained that a Limpopo seniors’ soccer team received the invitation from France, and they opened it up to the other provinces.

“This is not a SAFA organised initiative, but we are endorsing it,” she said.

Ms February described the seniors as legends who would proudly represent their communities and the country, and “hopefully build relationships with other countries”.

Linda Langa-Mayekiso, the coach of the MSFSC, said she was so proud when she saw the seniors playing in Pretoria.

“The way we displayed ourselves, it seemed like you have been playing for long, and yet, you have only been doing it for two months at that time. I at one stage asked myself if you are really over the age of 60. I hope this will change your lives as much as it did ours,” Ms Langa-Mayekiso said.