Recognising women’s achievements in the community
“She is there for everyone in the community,” said nineteen year old Sapho Nofemela, one of thirty youth honouring “Auntie” Mirriam Toni for her contribution to change in Mbekweni. She joins many other women in communities across Southern Africa, recognised for their efforts and achievements through an initiative led by Sport and Development organisation SCORE, which continues beyond National Women’s Month, last month.
Sapho describes Mirriam as, “a woman who has opened up her house to take care of children who are without parents. She knows everyone in the community and everyone knows her. If you have a problem, you can go to her.”
It was for these reasons that the youth from around Mbekweni honoured her in a role play that was delivered to other youth from around the province, as part of SCORE’s Cup of Heroes competition. The multi skilled tournament involves youth showcasing their sport skills in football, netball and volleyball and demonstrating how to use the life and leadership skills they have learned through sport to help their wider community.
“Sometimes you do work in the community and you think ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ So when you are recognised, you know that you are,” said Mirriam after the Young Leaders paid her a visit.
Mirriam shares with SCORE the belief that sport can change lives and is also the founder of the Mbekweni All Stars football club, with teams for every age category, from u11 to u19. “Sport is important because it keeps children and youth off the streets,” she says. For the past year, her teams have trained at the Mbekweni Community Sports Centre, a state of the art indoor facility that opened in the community during the 2010 World Cup, thanks to the support of UK charity Hope Through Action.
The group of young sports leaders brought food parcels to say thank you to Auntie Mirriam, “She was so grateful that we are making a point to recognise what she is doing,” said Sapho.
Mirriam believes, “It’s important to have leaders in the community. When you deliver, you deliver the right things. I too am a leader, when I deliver, I want the children to do the same thing as me. I am planting seeds, giving water and watching them grow.”
Meanwhile in Namibia, the Cup of Heroes community team from Windhoek recognised former SCORE National Manager Jacqui Shipanga. “She is a women who is putting women’s football on the map!” said Queeny Muluta. Jacqui is now head coach of Namibia’s Women’s national football team and was appointed by FIFA as member of the technical study group at this year’s Women’s World Cup.
News article courtesy of SCORE.