Health-e (Cape Town)

1 February 2013

South Africa: Grannies Play Soccer to Keep Fit

Vhembe — Grannies from the Mufulwi village in Limpopo are playing soccer to keep fit. This group of women aged between 50 and 75 years call themselves "Nyonyoloso ya vhaaluwa", which means “excercise for elders”.

"I love this team very much and I don't want to see it losing any matches. Winning is our first objective, playing for the price or not," said a very enthusiastic Nyamukamadi Nyatheli, a 55-year-old player.

Some other members play more for the exercise than the glory. "What I like most about our team is that we run a lot. It is good for everyone to exercise so that we will be healthy and keep our bodies in good condition. I feel like I am 30 years old because of the exercises we do," said a 59-year-old Muofhe Neba.

"Whenever we are at the field I feel much younger than what I actually am, and every time I stretch my muscles I know that it makes me stronger.

When we first started playing, young people used to tease us, but we never took them seriously because we knew that by playing football we will become just as fit and healthy as they are," said captain of the team Grace Simeli, who is 64 years old.

Edzisani Nemufulwi, the chief of the Mufulwi village said he is very happy about this soccer project for elders. “I just feel that not only old women should do this, old men should do this too because it is good for their health. I am very happy for those who are keeping their bodies fit and in good shape. I am proud of them and to them I say: ‘keep up the good work’," Nemufuluwi said.

Elisa Netshivhongweni, a sister at Matavhela clinic said: "I would like to advise and encourage every elder to do exercise. There are lots of activities that people can do as a way of keeping their bodies in good health, it’s not only exercise, but also eating a balanced diet can keep your body healthy."

"I am happy to know that other elders have taken this initiative to keep themselves healthy, and for that I am very honoured to be working with them," Netshivhongweni added.

- Suprise Nemalale is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from the Vhembe health district in Limpopo.

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