Loved this story in The New York Times:
About 1:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon, a caravan of luxury cars and sport utility vehicles roared into the park where hundreds of supporters had been waiting. President Jacob Zuma had arrived. The president was in this town, about 260 miles northeast of Johannesburg, to commemorate the life of Peter Mokaba, an antiapartheid activist.
Five days before the start of the World Cup, the stars of the celebration were a soccer team — a group of 35 women ages 49 to 84. After the speeches and ceremonies, the team, Vakhegula Vakhegula (Grannies Grannies), would play an exhibition game.
Beka Ntsanwisi founded Vakhegula Vakhegula five years ago as a way of providing inspiration for older women. The team usually plays its league games on Saturdays, but this was a special day with the president coming. And Ntsanwisi wanted to have a word with the president.
From the team’s meager beginning, Vakhegula Vakhegula have become well known in the region, and news of the team has spread to the United States. The team received an invitation to compete in the Veterans Cup, a tournament for teams with players 30 or older, next month in Lancaster, Mass.
I posted last week a story I wrote for the Times about my suburban adult softball team, with whom I’ve been playing for nine years, a group of men and women whose friendship — and athletic skills — have made my life incomparably more joyful.
Like the Grannies, our games are intergenerational and as much about having fun with people we truly enjoy as competing in a sport. I love knowing that sports, and sports-related friendships, are enjoyed just as much by other women around the world.
For Onica Ndzhovela, the Grannies helped her spirit from being broken. She had 12 children; 8 of them died.
“People were saying I was mad,” Ndzhovela said. “I was not mad; I had a lot of stress. It’s not easy to lose eight.”
The Grannies became her family; the soccer competition became an emotional outlet.