By Tee-Kay (Soweto Ultimate)
Soweto Ultimate was first formed back in 2006/7 by Rob Symonds and Dylan Wallett formerly of Ultitude. They visited Klipspruit/Pimville every Sunday afternoon to coach Ultimate at the Simba Stadium (now known as the Nike Training Football Centre). They were the pioneers who introduced Ultimate in Soweto – at the time I was only about 11 or 12 years old. Occasionally players would travel with Symonds to play Ultimate with experienced players in Sandton. I remember Soweto Ultimate even attending a Rocktober in 2007 at George Lea Park ! You can view a video of these early days here .
Unfortunately around 2008/9 people started losing interest as Symonds moved to the US and Wallett stopped coming. That was it – the end of Ultimate in Soweto.
In 2015, the GFDA launched a partnership with Moveit, Moving Matters, a Johannesburg based NGO that provides various physical education programs to 50 + schools in the Soweto region. Together, they taught a group of 20 interns, who were unemployed and came from a disadvantaged background, how to play and coach Ultimate during the SIT-UP (Sports Intern Training for Unemployed Persons) program. These interns were then dispatched to 20 schools throughout Soweto to coach students. Each year this grassroots project culminated in a massive interschool tournament with over 200 grade 6 children from Soweto playing Ultimate.
These intern coaches formed a team called the Soweto Movers and began competitive play at Rocktober 2015, although they finished the tournament winless.
Joining Forces – Dikwangkwetla
In 2015, I started playing ultimate again (21-year-old now) after I saw the Soweto Interschool Tournament on the Supersport TV programme called Let’s Play. I realized that Ultimate was still alive in Soweto ! My love for ultimate was revived.
Pimville and the Movers joined forces in 2016 to establish Soweto Ultimate Dikwankwetla led by Tshepo and myself, with the help of Charlotte. Many of the current Soweto Ultimate Dikwangwetla team are players who used to play back in 2007/8 (Tshepo, Thato, Collen, Katlego and myself).
What is noteworthy here is that having established players or teams visiting a township to coach and promote Ultimate even only once a week can help get more Black people involved. It worked with me and the other Dikwangwetla members as we are currently active Ultimate players !
About 90% of the team is made up of students, both high school and varsity. The player age ranges from 13 to 33, with most players being around 16 – 21.
Soweto Ultimate Dikwangkwetla
As Soweto Ultimate Dikwangwetla we have now played in several tournaments including Binnelanders 2016, Rocktober 2016, O & W Nationals 2016 in Durban, and Spirit of the Game day 2016. Our players are always included in hat tournaments and we are active members in the Gauteng Ultimate community.
Preparations for the 2016 Rocktober went well for Soweto Ultimate. We heard that the tournament featured the best teams in South Africa, so you can imagine how nervous we were as a new team to take part in such a big event ! Our goal was to gain experience and win at least one game. We did win one game, which was our first ever win as Soweto Ultimate, against Orange Farm Ultimate. The teams were tied at game point, and the joy, jubilation, excitement and celebration after Tari scored the 15th point from my assist – this was a historic win and moment.
Binnelanders 2017 came, during which we achieved our best position (5th out of 8 teams) in a tournament and registered three wins out of our six games.
Before playing Ultimate most players on the team had never travelled, but now we have attended Men’s Nationals in Durban in 2016, thanks to Charlotte’s donation, and some of us have even traveled to Cape Town for the Wild Dog’s trials.
In December 2016 and February 2017 we were lucky enough to have three of our players partake in trials for the U23 Wild Dogs squad and are proud to announce that Carol and myself made it onto the team who will compete in the U23 Championships in Australia in 2018.
In February 2017, the GFDA arranged for a top UK Ultimate coach, Coach Felix, to travel to South Africa and run a full day clinic in Soweto. We received throwing, catching and strategy tips. Soweto Ultimate has our own style of play that is different from the team’s style of play. It’s similar to ‘tika tica’, we call it ultimate football. According to Felix the hex works fantastically well with our style of play as it provides guidelines to create space and if we use it effectively it will support our quick movement. We did a lot of hex drills with Felix and we are looking to master it and use it at Rocktober. We did get the opportunity to apply the hex in one of our summer league games with Felix playing for us, it was beautiful.
We also feature in both the Gauteng leagues (Mixed summer and Men’s winter).
All of this to say that the team has quickly become competitive !
Carol – Captain
Zweli – Spirit Captain
We want to show the world that with the right exposure and community network you can empower a young person to open doors and opportunities for themselves and their community through sport. Soweto is an ambitious team, a committed bunch of winners, hardworking, passionate, forever improving club with dedicated individuals.
Development in Soweto
There are five school team that are playing Ultimate in Soweto, with about 80 players. These kids unfortunately only get to participate in a tournament once a year (the Soweto Interschool Tournament), which was cancelled this year after the main sponsor pulled out. In an attempt to get the kids playing more, Zweli, Chief, Pule and Gontso (Ultimate coaches in Soweto schools) hosted an U15 tournament earlier this year. Last month Soweto Ultimate also challenged one of the school’s teams to a game.
For the development, growth and transformation of Ultimate I challenge each of the established Gauteng teams to at least adopt a school team to nurture and develop the talent and maybe play with them. We need to ensure that these players don’t lose interest due to lack of game opportunities.
The schools involved are :
- Elsie Ngidi Primary
- Hitekani Primary
- Mochochono Primary
- Tshilidzi Primary
- Puthalushaka Primary
- Lumelang Primary
- Sedibathuto Primay
- Igugu Primary
The biggest challenge for Soweto Ultimate is not having funds available for transportation to tournaments, not having enough discs and lacking high level coaching.
Our struggles… well it is hard enough for our parents to put food on the table. From poor government education that we township kids are subjected to, and pressure from knowing that you are your family’s only hope of getting them out their misery (poverty). Peer pressure is also rampant, you get a 16-year-old smoking and drinking alcohol. Players come and go. For a player to take a taxi roundtrip to Wits for a game is R30 per player, where is a 16 or 17-year-old learner supposed to get that kind of money ? It is extremely frustrating knowing that people want to play but can’t afford to. We receive no support from our parents – Ultimate is expensive, we currently don’t even have a field to host or practise at. Due to this, for the past couple of months, practise and game attendance has been extremely poor.
Soweto Ultimate was not able to attend Mixed Nationals 2017 due to insufficient funds. It would have cost approximately 25,000 rands for the tour (including food and accommodation). The team was extremely sad to miss out – some are even threatening to quit and others have actually stopped playing. Realistically we can’t continue to play a game that excludes us financially, causing us to miss out on major events and tournaments. There was even a development meeting before Mixed Nationals, but none of us were able to participate in the conversation. We are hurting but we do understand that Ultimate is still a growing sport, so funds are not really available and we have to generate funds.
What’s Next ?
With the youthful spirit, it has potential of conquering the ultimate society as time goes by. The future of ultimate is with them. Most players have a strong vision of being the best amongst all the others which will require more game time, more learning of the rules and enhance the spirit more. Many people are pushing for ultimate to be a transformed and get recognised so that there is a lot of interest, players want to go far with the sport. As Ultimate grows we believe that we can be the pioneers of more black players in Ultimate
– Captain Fresh (Nhlanhla Matshoma)
In the short term, Soweto Ultimate hopes to attend the upcoming Men’s Nationals in East London. Thus far we have done some fundraising by selling toothbrushes and have managed to pay the team fee. Each player must now hustle, to contribute about R350 each. We will be at Spur (Southgate) on the 8th of August working as waiters to try to raise the money so please come show your support !
Our main goal is to ensure that Soweto Ultimate doesn’t vanish like it did before or like Khayoba (Khayelitsha township based ultimate team that apparently played breath-taking Ultimate). We plan to promote Ultimate around Soweto, and encourage parents and the community to support the team, creating a culture of Ultimate here in the township.
When it comes to the knowledge and rules of the game, we would like to have all of our players obtain accreditation, the standard and advanced accreditation so we can have proper understanding of the game as at times some oppositions take advantage of the fact that we struggle when it comes to the rules of the game.
We plan to continue our grassroots development projects to ensure transformation happens in South African Ultimate, while growing the overall player base in South Africa – we’d love to recruit more players and compete up against the best. Soweto Ultimate’s objectives are to eventually host our own league so that the children may play Ultimate every weekend.
We also want to win a major tournament like Mixed Nationals or Rocktober in about two to three years but firstly we are looking at winning the Gauteng summer league in 2018 – dominate and rule ultimate in Gauteng.
Oh, and Dikwangwetla means to conquer. See you on the pitch !
To get in contact with Soweto Ultimate: SowetoUltimate@gmail.com
Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Dikwangkwetlaultimate/
Follow us on Twitter: @SowetoUltimate