‘My role is to lead by example – not force,’ says Tuks women's football team captain Manamela

Posted on August 14, 2023

As captain of the Tuks women's football team, Morongwa Manamela believes her role is to lead by example and not by force.

"I believe any team is only as good as its leader; therefore, my role as captain is to be the one that holds the team together. In other words, I inspire my teammates to play to the best of their abilities. The mark of a great captain is not just winning games but creating a winning culture."

These are not empty words. In 2021, leading from the front, Manamela got her team to contest the Varsity Football final. Tuks did not win. But it was still a fantastic performance, as it was only the second time the team got to contest the Varsity final.

She is making her return to the captaincy this year after having not captained the team during the Varsity Tournament last year. And she is making a difference. Her inspiring leadership qualities have undoubtedly played a role in getting Tuks to win their last six games in the Hollywood Bets Super League.

She had a great start in the Varsity Tournament this past weekend when Tuks came out victorious in all three of their matches, winning 5 – 0 against Wits, 3 – 1 against the University of KwaZulu-Natal and 2 – 0 against the University of Fort Hare to book their spot in the semi-finals. The goal is to get Tuks to play the final this coming weekend and go one better and win.

Between them and the final is their match on Monday night against the University of the Western Cape. "But it is crucial not to get ahead of ourselves. We will take it one game at a time," said Manamela.

Still, she can't help but be excited. Her confidence sprouts from Tuks' heroics in the Hollywood Bets League. She says playing against the best has forced herself and her teammates to step up.

"I won't lie. At first, we were a bit overwhelmed. The standard of play was much higher than we were used to. It was a case of adapt or die. We did adapt. The lessons we learned from playing in the Hollywood Bets Super League will stand us in good stead in the Varsity Tournament."

Manamela plays as a defender. Getting to foil the opposition's chances of scoring goals is a challenge she relishes. But she is doing more than that. She is a versatile, two-footed footballer who thinks on her feet. Often it leads to her changing the outcome of a game. She is also a great passer of the ball. She captained South Africa's under-17 and under-20 teams.

 "Football is 'God's gift' to me. So it is important to me to showcase my talent. But I also need to use it to inspire those who might have had severe setbacks in life and, therefore, can't play football. It is important to me to try and 'inspire' them through the way I play."

"What helps to be a defender is that I am at the back. It means I can see what is happening at all times. It makes it easier to strategise and set my teammates up to score potential goals."

- Author Wilhelm de Swardt

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