What an exciting journey we had in this first season of the Mixed Gender League. The league uses the football3 methodology, which was a new thing for our youth. I believe the 2014 Football for Hope Festival in Brazil, where I represented my country as a Young Leader and mediator and where I had to lead integration together with the mediators from around the world, taught me to bring home and implement what I learnt. It created a big change and a wonderful break for a lot of countries around the world.
The recruitment started and there was no turning back for me from being the coordinator of such a big programme. I was working with an awesome team - Game Changers and Sanele Nsele, the Homework Coordinator. The first season started, we were working with 8 schools, 8 teams, 4 boys and 4 girls each, and a total number of 64 participants for the season. It was difficult at first having to go to each school explaining to them the concept and the aims of the Mixed Gender League. Some schools wanted to be part of the league but couldn’t because of transport issues and the distance, so we had to keep pushing and find other schools. One school told us they would be part of the league but when the date came for them to play they didn’t show up, but that didn’t stop us we had to keep going and we did until we completed it and we had 8 schools.
Once the ball was kicked for the first match, the teams started understanding the rules and the ways of football3, teaching them about gender equity, fair play rules, and working as a team to achieve a common goal. Every Tuesday and Thursday the teams showed up. Even the teachers came to watch their particular teams perform. This was encouraging to see that there was support from the school body as well.
The final day of the Mixed Gender League was on the 12th of June. It was amazingly positive how the players reflected the spirit of teamwork and respect. At the end, it was amazing to hear the participants’ overall feedback on what they learnt from our Mixed Gender League.
We did our work perfectly well. I was an amazing development from the challenges to the achievements of the whole idea of Mixed Gender League. The excitement still hasn’t gone down on us. It has been really amazing. The two teams from the final had the same amount of points after the league matches and the game went penalties after a 1-1 draw after regular time. The heroics of the Edendale Tech goalkeeper won it for his team. He saved 3 consecutive penalties. He even had to step up for his team and scored his penalty. The sport teachers of both schools were there in the action to support their teams.
After the match the teams were both awarded gold medals and a beautiful orange football for the school. The team from Mehlokazulu finished the league in 3rd place and received silver medals. There was a lot of singing and celebrations in the stands from the supporters, singing traditional Zulu songs of victory. It created a very positive vibe to the match and the Health Academy as a whole. The teachers of the two finalists also received medals as a token of appreciation to their interest and support!
I am ready for the next season.