#16Days: Woman tells how soccer helped her cope with life’s hardships

Makarina Mokoena during her heydays in soccer.


Despite being repeatedly raped by a relative and losing her parents at an early age, Makara ‘Makarina’ Mokoena didn’t stop following her dream of playing soccer.

The 39-year-old soccer fanatic from Ivory Park continues to inspire many girls in her community through her passion for soccer and love for people. Fondly known as ‘Makarina’ by her community, she relates how soccer has helped her cope with life’s hardships.

She moved from Lesotho to South Africa at the age of 10 in search of her mother’s family. She related how life was difficult for her as one of her relatives repeatedly raped her at the ages of 12, 16 and 25 after both her parents had died. “Soccer helped me a lot because that is where through coaching exercises, I learned what had happened to me and how to cope with it,” she said.

Mokoena joined and played for Rabie Ridge-based Palace Superior Falcons team owned by Bob Maredi where she harnessed her skills and became captain.

Although she had aspirations to play for the national team Banyana Banyana, she had to hang up her boots in 2012 due to her age and lack of development on the field. “I had to retire due to non-progress in women’s football in terms of promotion to another level like the Premier Soccer League.”

Mokoena added that women’s football lacked support in communities all over the world. She said although the government was trying to support women’s soccer, it did not provide sufficient funds for its development.

Makarina Mokoena did not allow difficulties to stop her from playing her favorite sport.

She currently serves as the general secretary for the Midrand Local Football Association and owns a soccer development clinic for boys and girls. She also volunteers as a home-based carer.

“My advice to young girls is that they should be strong, disciplined, value themselves and learn to focus on positive things.” Her mottos in life are: ‘You need to start somewhere to be somewhere’ and ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

What can be done to improve women’s soccer development? Tweet us @MidrandReporter

Lungile Dube

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