The Hammarsdale-based Sunflower Women’s Football Club continue to do great work in empowering the young girls of the local community through football and a number of other programmes that have stemmed from their footballing success.
The club came into existence in 1996 when a group of girls wanted to play football, but didn’t want to have to play with the boys. The club has evolved remarkably from its early days and now, as part of the Elite Athlete Development Programme supported by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, will continue to support young girls.
“The biggest highlights of the 21 years that the club has been in existence for was definitely our victory at the 2017 KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Championships,” the club’s consultant Lona Benya said.
“From there we were nominated as Team of the Year at this year’s KZN Sports Awards.
“We were the first women’s team to be nominated for the award.”
With four players currently preparing for the Under 17 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay, one player with the national Under 20 side and one other with the senior national side, there are a number of players making the step up to international level.
The influence on the girls of Hammarsdale goes far beyond the four lines of the football pitch with a number of initiatives in place that increase their influence on the women of their community.
“We have a Santa Shoe Box programme where we give out gifts to the needy, as well as a Girls Play Safe programme.
“In the Girls Play Safe programme we use football and karate as part of a life skills initiative.
“There are also administration courses that we run, but we have many, many initiatives that we champion to try and better the lives of the girls and give them opportunities,” Benya mentioned.
The Sunflower Women’s Football Club started as a football club but has ballooned into something much larger and more significant, although the football team continues to break ground and perform at the highest level.
Nine players represented the City of Durban in Germany for the 2016 One Nations Cup and six Players in Japan for 2018 Edition and came back with Bronze Medals.
“A number of the girls have been able to travel around the world through football and we have always pushed the notion that football can take you to so many different places.
“Our executive committee and the national lottery support the girls tremendously,” she added.
The side’s inclusion in the Elite Athlete Development Programme is the next step in nurturing the talent that they have at their disposal.
“Dr Subban and the team at Prime have been very supportive and have helped the girls understand the importance of nutrition as well as helping them with diet advice and physical training support.
“We have been at Prime on Monday for a recovery session after our match on the weekend.
“Having this sort of support is going to be crucial in the development of the girls into better players,” Benya commented.
Head coach Siyabonga Malinga has been a crucial part of the club since its inception and he is currently in his practical phase to become an accredited football instructor after finishing the theory process.