STRIKING: Women football players from Heideveld look smart at their presentation
An award-winning female football club in Heideveld is showing girls there’s more to life than teenage pregnancy, drugs and gangsterism.

The Heideveld Female Football Academy (HFFA) was founded in 2015, and on Saturday celebrated their 20 players at a VIP-themed event.

The players, aged 13 to 30, dressed up in evening wear and were treated to supper and live entertainment.

In October, the academy won the South African Football Association’s women’s regional league, and the players say since the academy’s inception, they’ve grown in skill and performance with the help of the community and a good leadership.

HFFA chairwoman, Kim Jalis, 36, says the team was started when she saw girls and young women in Heideveld being drawn into a life of crime by the men they associated with.

She called a meeting with like-minded people in the community, and the club was established.

She says most of the players come from very disadvantaged circumstances and “were probably going to end up in trouble”, but playing soccer has motivated them and given them a glimpse of another life that’s possible for them.

PLUCK: Team members on a break from hard work

“It is very sad, but in our community of Heideveld, there is nothing for our girls; no help if they are desperate. And when they become desperate, they turn to drugs and get pregnant,” says Kim.

“We want more for our girls and I am so proud of them.”

She says it’s been an uphill battle keeping the club going, but they are fighting hard to be able to help the vulnerable meisies in their community.

“Some girls don’t have food at home. They come from really poor families, where a loaf of bread, electricity and milk are luxuries.

“Some of the females have had to endure violence - at school, in the streets and specifically from the opposite sex.

KUDOS: Taylor Claasen, 14, most improved player, flanked by Mr. and Mrs. Johnson

“We teach our girls to be strong individually by instilling discipline, a need to learn and enhancing talent they already have, then show them how to get respect. It has been an honour to watch the girls flourish and grow.”

All the girls received certificates and Kim says: “Getting just one girl off the street, keeping just one young girl from becoming somebody’s drug slave is all the reward I need.”

To get involved in the HFFA, become a player or donate to the team, please contact Kim on 071 524 9523.

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