28 April 2021 – The role that is played by Sasol League in women’s football is an immense one, and cannot be compared to any.
Those are the words of Mbulelo Jack, chairperson and coach of Diamond Ladies FC in Kimberly, Northern Cape.
In a wide-ranging interview with SAFA Media, Jack believes that had Sasol not come on board, they don’t know where women’s football would be today.
“Let’s face it, we are where we are today because of Sasol! We are eternally grateful for what they have done for women’s football – we don’t know where we would be if it wasn’t for them. It is a known fact that the SAFA Women’s National League was formed from the foundation laid by the Sasol League – because if those players from Sasol League were not available where would they get players from,” said Jack all the way from Kimberly.
“In the same vein, all the junior national teams got their players from the Sasol League – so did Banyana Banyana before the advent of the National League. So, without Sasol, women’s football would probably be forgotten in this country, and we really appreciate everything they are doing for us and we wish more corporate companies would come to assist too because women’s football is on the rise, and Sasol is leading the charge single-handedly.”
“I have a player that was born in 2013, Tshegofatso Phala – she is only seven – and she is exceptional. It’s thanks to the Sasol League that we are able to expose such talent. Thanks to this league many players have made a name for themselves. And the good thing is that Sasol is meeting the teams halfway with equipment like playing kit, and that helps a lot,” he added.
“The reward we get here is that players are exposed to national team selectors and that gives them motivation to do well because they all want to see themselves playing for various national teams, especially Banyana Banyana – and they know that Sasol League is the vehicle to that glory. Sasol is playing a crucial role in women’s football development, and in turn, in the development of the individual. They are playing a huge part and that is all we can ask for.”
Having formed Diamond Ladies back in 2013, Jack says he is the youngest chairman in the league and adds he has a good squad that he believes will lift the trophy at the end of the season.
“I am a great believer in women’s football. Those who know me will tell that I have been involved with the game since my teen years. I formed this club with the main aim of giving something meaningful in their lives. We have three divisions – the senior team is already campaigning in the Sasol League following promotion from the regional league in 2019 in the Francis Baard region. I believe we will do well at the end of this season more so because we have, most likely, the youngest squad in the province,” added Jack.
The chairman is no stranger to tough competition.
While coaching his team in the LFA, he also led Royal Wizards in the 2019 Sasol League season where they won the league without suffering defeat. He went on to coach the team in the Sasol League National Champs held in Tsakane, Johannesburg but unfortunately lost to eventual winners JVW FC in the semifinals.
“I coached both teams – Regional League (Diamond Ladies) on Saturday and Sasol League (Richmond Ladies) on Sunday. We reached the top four in the National Champs with Richmond Ladies – the first time a Northern Cape side did that. The other milestone was winning the Regional League with Diamond Ladies, finishing the season unbeaten,” said an excited Jack.
He believes in his young squad.
In the three matches they have played so far in 2021, they won two and lost one. (Won 6-1 against Rising Stars; lost 5-1 Galeshewe Ladies and won 9-0 vs Carnarvon Ladies).
Diamond Ladies have an unchanged squad for the 2021 Sasol League season, and have added only one player – Tsholofelo Tshwene, who was on load to Richmond Ladies.
“Because we were competing at regional level, I felt she was good enough to play in the higher level at Sasol League so she could get more experience. Now she is back to help us win the league and try to get promoted to the National League,” said Jack.
“Also, we don’t need to go outside the province to get quality players when we can develop our own. I have already laid a foundation, and my oldest player is only 21. It is not easy to develop a girl child – you need a lot of patience, hard work and understanding. But this is made easy by the fact that women’s football is my passion, it is in my blood, so when you talk development I a big supporter of that. At the moment we have three divisions, and this can only mean that our development structures are working very well.”
Jack adds that his other mission is to bring back glory to Northern Cape football.
He was in charge of the U17 squad that played in the Schools tournament in Durban in 2019 where they finished in second place – another historic milestone for the province because they had never been that far up in competitions.
“For far too long we have been the laughing stock of other provinces when it comes to football. We would go to a tournament and be back home after the first round, because we did not do things properly. We waited for a tournament to be announced and immediately thereafter we start running around trying to fill a bus with numbers, not real players. When they get there, those teams are humiliated with very high scores – but that is a thing of the past. We are now going to prepare thoroughly so we can give a good account of ourselves in these tournaments,” said Jack.
But for now, uppermost on Jack’s mind is the National Champs – and this time he will be leading his own team.
“The aim is to win the league as Northern Cape champions, then get to the National Champs where we can fight for the top two spots and be promoted. The thing is I was there in Tsakane with Royal Eagles and tasted the vibe and I want to experience it again. But most importantly I want to play in the National League,” concluded Jack.
“I am confident that we will get there because, with due respect to the Sasol League teams, the big guns are not there this time around to disturb us. We had a great pre-season, and when it is that good, you don’t need to panic as it will tell you how far you are in terms of preparations. Like I said, we never lost a match in 2019 to get promotion so we believe we can do this.”
Diamond Ladies, who are captained by Katleho Moalahi, next face Ricky All Stars on 8 May 2021.