Cape Town’s soccer angels

1 February 2006

Professional women’s football may not have taken off in South Africa, but if the vision and energy of Cape Town Angels FC is anything to go by, it’s only a matter of time before it does.

The Cape Town Angels Football Club, born in 2002 out of development work done at the Jogo Bonito School of Excellence, aims to become a feeder for young South African women hoping to break into the world of professional soccer.

Since then the club, which starts with teams at the under-nine age group level, has gone from strength to strength.

Its potential was recently recognised by South Africa’s top selling soccer magazine, Kickoff, which has joined forces with the Angels to help with fund-raising and brand-building.

‘Example to all amateur clubs’
“It’s my opinion that this is a club that can be an example to all amateur clubs in South Africa, male and female,” says Kickoff editorial director Richard Maguire.

The Angels, who recently made the Hartleyvale Stadium their new home, will be supported by the magazine’s marketing team of Kgomotso Kgatle and former Bafana Bafana striker George Dearnaley.

Angels’ coach Lee du Plessis reckons the partnership with Kickoff will lead to new opportunities for the club. “This will improve the credibility of women athletes in the wider sporting community,” she said.

The club’s primary fundraising focus is the Umbro International Cup, set to be played in Manchester, England in 2007.

It will cost up to R15 000 for each player to attend, and money is in short supply, with many of the players coming from poor homes in the areas of Mitchell’s Plain, Athlone and Khayelitsha.

Angel in America
Recently, one of the Angels, 15-year-old schoolgirl Lindsey Dolman, travelled to the United States to find out for herself what it takes to become a professional player.

The game is big business in the US, which boasts a healthy professional league as well as 20 million registered players under the age of 19.

Dolman, who dreams of representing South Africa at the Olympics and the World Cup, wanted to find out what aspects of her game she needs to work on, so she attended the Vermont and New Hampshire Olympic Development Program, which identifies the most talented players around the United States.

The programme trains players as young as 12 in a far-sighted effort to produce future Olympians and World Cup stars.

A wonderful experience
Dolman says it was a wonderful experience. “The facilities are great,” she enthused. “The training wasn’t anything special or new; it was amazing how many girls play the game here.”

South Africa, says Dolman, has the talent to star in the world game, but women’s soccer needs greater support: “We are ahead of the curve and we need to keep improving. We need more support for girl’s football.

“The programme which we are in [at Cape Town Angels FC] is doing a lot for us, and I only realized it now seeing what else is happening in the USA.

“I am grateful to Cape Town Angels believing in me and making this learning experience possible,” Dolman added. “This was my first plane trip and it was long. I hope I can spread the word about women’s football.”

So, does Dolman have any other football dreams she wishes to fulfil? “I want to be the perfect footballer,” she says.

“I know I am small and a little slow, but so too was Pele and Mia Hamm.”

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