Go to contents

In S. Africa, Soccer Breathing New Life in Elderly Women

In S. Africa, Soccer Breathing New Life in Elderly Women

Posted January. 14, 2010 08:47,   


A poor neighborhood about 600 kilometers from Johannesburg, South Africa, is home to the world’s sole soccer league for elderly women.

In the eight-team “granny” league, being 60 years old is relatively young. Players range in age from 40 to 80 in the league.

On game day, the women after finishing their household chores gather at a field with a shoddily built goal and a sand field. They are just as serious about winning, however, as professional players.

Throughout the game, they fight shoulder-to-shoulder for the ball though rough play is prohibited.

The players’ children and grandchildren cheer them on. One 65-year-old player who calls herself Maradona said, "On game day, a festival takes places. When I’m on the field, I feel as if I was the real (Diego) Maradona.”

Is the tough play bad for their health? On the contrary, the players say their health has greatly improved because they play. A player who once suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes said her doctor expressed disbelief over how she became healthy again.

Another woman who survived six strokes said the league has made players “10 years younger” because of regular exercise and a new vigor for living.

The elderly women say they are so excited over their country’s hosting of this year’s World Cup starting in June. One player who is more than 80 years old said, “Every night, I pray I’ll live until June.”