"Vakhegula Vakhegula"


A group of South African grandmothers aged 55-84 are breaking all taboos as they take up the game of soccer to live an active, healthy & fulfilling lifestyle.  Dealing with their own stories of abuse, poverty & neglect these women come together on the soccer pitch for their weekly dose of therapy- both emotional & physical and to celebrate being alive. Started in 2003 by Limpopo social worker Rebecca Ntsanwisi the movement of the soccer grannies has spread across South Africa like wild fire with as many as 40 informal teams being established across the country including interest from women in neighboring countries such as Mozambique & Zimbabwe. 


“ How can you not fall in love with the “soccer grannies”?  In lesser hands, this could have easily become a tragic tale of harsh, nearly unthinkable lives.  But that would have missed the heart of the story – and of the grannies.  So much joy and resilience and insistence on life.  You almost forget the pain and brutality of their world. So do they, as soon as that WHISTLE BLOWS.”



Rebecca Ntsanwisi aka "Mama Beka" was born in Tzaneen, Limpopo and has devoted her life to philanthropic work and raising awareness towards some of the many problems in South Africa. 

Combined with her passion for sport, she started the soccer grannies when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003. It was during her own battle with the disease that she set out to create a structure that could also help benefit the elderly woman in her village and South Africa. 

The Soccer Grannies 'Vakhegula Vakhegula' is one of her many projects having given over 50 bursaries to needy students & helped poverty stricken families with resources. Receiving numerous awards and accolades, Mama Beka's ultimate goal is to have an international soccer league which she hopes will lead to the formation of the Soccer World Cup for the Elderly or Africa Grannies Cup. 



Filmed in the heart of Limpopo, the award-winning documentary  Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa follows the women of the “Vakhegula Vakhegula” team as they lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way through years of prejudice. Under the devoted instruction of Coach Jack  these grannies play some serious soccer. Fueled by the camaraderie of the team they then break into laughter & traditional song as they wage a singular fight for a decent life, true health and a snatch at joy in a brutal world. 


Doc NYC Film Festival Nov 2015 (New York, USA) *University Showcase

SXSW Film Festival March 2016 (Austin, USA) *WORLD PREMIERE

Montclair Film Festival May 2016 (New Jersey, USA)

Seattle International Film Festival May 2016 (Seattle, USA)

Brooklyn Film Festival June 2016 (Brooklyn, NY)

Encounters June 2016 (Johannesburg/Cape Town, SA) *African Premiere

deadCenter Film Festival June 2016 (Oklahoma, USA)

Venice International Film Festival Sep 2016 (Venice, Italy) *NYFA Showcase

DMZ Int Documentary Film Fest Sep 2016 (South Korea) *Asian Premiere

Port Townsend Film Fest Sep 2016 (Washington, USA)

Milwaukee Film Fest Sep 2016 (Wisconsin, USA) Savannah Film Fest Oct 2016 (Georgia, USA)

United Nations Monterey Bay Nov 2016 (California, USA)

Sedona Film Festival Feb 2017 (Arizona, USA)

World Community Film Festival Feb 2017 (BC, Canada)

11mm International Football Film Festival March 2017 (Berlin, Germany)

Taos Shortz Film Festival April 2017 (New Mexico, USA)

Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia June 2017 (Tokyo, Japan)

ShorTS International Film Festival July 2017 (Trieste, Italy)

Football Film Festival Aug 2017 (St. Gallen, Switzerland)

The Smalls Film Festival Sep 2017 (London, England)

Cineffable Film Festival Oct 2017 (Paris, France)


South African born and raised, I wanted to make a film that celebrates the spirit of African women as often they are the unsung heroes of a flawed society. Upon discovering the story of Beka and the grannies and witnessing their warmth and resilience it quickly became apparent that I had found the definitive group of women to champion this idea. 

The film is also an extension of my masters in International Business whereby I did my dissertation on social entrepreneurship in South Africa and its economic & social importance in aiding and alleviating social ills.  With high unemployment, a high murder rate & widespread AIDS South Africa has the highest death rate in the world, the elderly in most African societies are a vulnerable group as a result of a lifetime of hardship, malnutrition, poverty and a high susceptibility to chronic diseases. 

The story of the soccer grannies is an enlightening example of a grassroots movement whereby an unsuspecting group of women take on the game of soccer to emotionally & physically empower themselves and to create a sense of hope in a world left with little opportunity. In doing so they triumphantly bring about an infectious joy to all &  a colorful cause for celebration. 

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