A thrashing of 11-0 against Midrand Graduate Institute on Tuesday night was not enough for the Wits women’s soccer team to qualify for this year’s national club championships.
The Wits Women’s soccer team is ranked sixth in the University Sports South Africa (USSA) league. They failed to reach one of the top four positions to qualify for play-offs in October. Last year, they were one of the top three teams and went to the USSA National Club Championships.
“The team lacks upfront when it comes to finishing goals,” said Dennis Tshabalala, the team’s coach for the past two years. Although the team does score a few goals, Tshabalala said, “We need a prolific scorer.”
Compared to previous years, the team’s performance has declined. They are not as competitive as they were in previous years according to team manager, Marcel Kutumela, 4th year Social Work. Kutumela played for the team but took on the role as manager after a knee injury, which required reconstruction surgery.
“The team morale is not on par,” she said. The team used to compete “rigorously” against their top competitors, University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg and the Vaal University of Technology, but no more.
“This year they lost against those teams, which scored against us. Usually we would play until a goalless draw,” Kutumela said.
Kutumela said the team should “build more character in ourselves, and have good team spirit … [We] need to fight harder and train harder. And people need to be more confident in themselves.”
She said the season was not good and they could perform better, and suggested support from the university and students would help.
Kutumela also suggested that the university could do more to create platforms for exposure of the women’s team. Last year the team was featured in the Wits Catalogue “but that’s it,” she said.
It would make a difference if more students participated in soccer, because there would be more players to choose from. This year, people didn’t attend practices and games because of studies “which is understandable,” said Kutumela.
Although pleased with the win over Midrand Graduate Institute team captain Linah Maphanga, 3rd year BSc, said the team “lacked discipline and training”.
She was pleased the team won, “it has been so long since we won,” she said. Maphanga agreed this season had been a struggle with the team having to play matches without a full squad.
Tshabalala called the win “okay”.
Women in sport
Tshabala said the challenge the women’s team faced were the same for all women’s sport. “There is low support”. He said the team would perform better if more people came to watch the games and cheer them on.
To help overcome challenges, he said women’s soccer should be developed at schools, so that when players come to university, they can just work on “minor tactical issues”.
If football at school level is improved then at university the performance will be “super”.
Kutumela, who has been a female athlete for 12 years, said that women have “something to prove … especially with the physical aspect”.
She explained that women need to be stronger than their opposition, including males, to be featured and promoted.