Updated 19 June 2017

Rural grannies fighting old age with soccer

Twice a week 28 grannies gather at the Tshifulanani Stadium to exercise and play soccer.


Twice a week a group of grannies gathers at the Tshifulanani Stadium, outside of Thohoyandou, where they exercise and play soccer.

They are excited about these regular soccer games, which they say help them keep fit and able to fight diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Together the grannies have formed a soccer team known as the Tshifulanani Old Age Football Club, which was founded back in 2014.

Finding a way to exercise

“We decided to form a soccer team for us grannies after we realised that we spend most of our time just sitting at home not doing anything. That puts us at risk of being affected by some of the old age diseases because we would not be exercising at all,” said Elsie Nedzanani (52), captain of Tshifulanani Old Age Football Club.

“If you ask anyone of us about old age diseases, we will all tell you that we are healthier and fitter than most youth who do not exercise. For us exercise is key as it’s the first step towards leading a healthy life,” she said.

Not just soccer

In addition to soccer, the grannies also play some of the indigenous games that they learnt in their youth.

“We have since introduced indigenous games, such as Morabaraba, as part of our activities when we get tired of playing soccer,” said Nedzanani.

All the grannies reside at Tshifulanani village. As part of the recent Africa day celebrations, the Limpopo MEC of Sports, Arts and Culture, Onica Moloi, donated soccer gear to the team. This is the first time they have had proper kit since they started in 2014.

football, soccer team, Tshifulanani Old Age Footba
                                   The grannies from the Tshifulanani Old Age Football Club in their newly sponsored kit.

Soccer is for all ages

“Sometimes I wish if something like this was introduced years ago when we were growing up, maybe I could had been one of the Banyana Banyana strikers. If you ask anyone here, they will tell you that I am very good at scoring goals,” said Lizzy Masindi (60). The oldest granny in the team is 82.

As they are no other teams in the area, the grannies usually divide themselves into two groups and play against each other.

“When we started my legs used to get sore every time we played. But now they only get sore if I spend two weeks without kicking any soccer ball. I enjoy soccer the most, even though I am good at some of the indigenous games,” said Nyawasedza Mbambale (68).

She encouraged other villagers to follow their lead and establish football teams so that they can have other teams to challenge. – Health-e News

Read more:

Seniors who exercise have healthier brains

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

Seniors ward off dementia with exercise


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