By Chris Totobela
As we close Women’s Month, we pay respect to women by recognising their role in sport. Alicedale United player and South African Police Services (SAPS) officer, Khanyiso Mzileni, started playing rugby in 2017 when she was recruited to play for the SAPS rugby team. It did not long for her to make this decision as she liked the challenge of trying something new.
She also viewed this as an opportunity for her to travel to other provinces. Her first game was a friendly match against the University of Fort Hare team, who were a step ahead and proved to be difficult opponents.
Mzileni then adapted much quicker to the demands of the game than she had expected. Her first official game was in Kimberly where she played as fly-half and had a decent game. She also played for Kowie United before joining her current club. The soft-spoken and ever-smiling mother of eight-year-old daughter, Zothando, did not hide her disappointment with the current state of women’s rugby in Makhanda.
“I’m playing for an Alicedale-based team but I live here in Makhanda. There are also 10 or more other local girls who are doing the same thing because there is no women’s rugby team in Makhanda”, she told Grocott’s Mail. Mzileni also mentioned that local girls have lost confidence and trust in local officials because there is too much politics in local rugby.
Mzileni says that as much as it is extremely difficult for their coach, he always goes the extra mile to make sure that the club survives. She told Grocott’s Mail that she would like to see some changes in local rugby. “If we want to move forward a lot has to change. We need to put the past behind us. We also need to have people who have the best interests of players at heart in leading positions. Politics, personal attacks, and unnecessary competition need to be eradicated if we want to develop women’s rugby” Mzileni said.
She believes it is vital that everyone involved in sports works together with the aim of improving the current situation as opposed to seeking readily available players and not even contributing to those players’ development.
Mzileni’s favourite player is Bok wing, Aphiwe Dyantyi, and her role model is her teammate in the SAPS team, Sinazo Halom, who she says is the greatest motivator on the field, a good reader of the game and plays her heart out. Mzileni has vowed to play for as long as her legs can still carry her and says selection for the provincial or national team will
be a huge bonus.
She has left a message with Grocott’s Mail as we close off Women’s Month, saying: “The time is now for us women to take our rightful place in the world. We have been shadowing men for far too long and that hasn’t yielded any results. We have proven ourselves in many different aspects but were never noticed and now we need to take up our space and move forward.”