Phumeza Ngwane loves everything about football. Whether she is watching Pirates play, representing Plettenberg Bay Ladies Football Club in the Sasol League, or coaching the youth at the FNB Lawaaikamp Artificial Pitch in George, football is entrenched in her life in every way.

“I cannot imagine a life without football and whether I’m watching, playing or coaching I always put my heart and soul into it,” says Ngwane.

The 33 year old, has been one of the assistant coaches of the FNB Football First Programme in George since its inception in 2011, and says there have been many highlights along the way.

“Each year when we travel to Johannesburg to compete against the other regions it’s a great experience, but when one of my girls got selected to play for the Bantwana, the national under 17 team, I was ecstatic.  It’s great to see the hard work delivering results.”

Even though the programme caters for all ages from grassroots level, she enjoys working with the under 15 girls a lot.

“The older respond very well to coaching.  The fact that they know they are now in contention for the regional team to travel to Johannesburg for the FNB Football First Festival is also a huge motivating factor.  They know that if they perform well there, they could be spotted by scouts and selectors from various clubs as well as the SAFA ranks.”

Ngwane explains how the FNB Football First Programme has touched the lives of the youth in Lawaaikamp: “Just like any other township, Lawaaikamp has a lot of crime and substance abuse is a huge problem.  The programme encourages a healthy lifestyle, and the time they spend at the pitch and training is time away from the temptations of drugs and crime.”

She continues to explain how the parents are also grateful for the opportunities the programme has created for their children: “Two of the boys from our region have made it to the under 17 national team and one of them is now at SuperSport United Academy.  Football saved them from a life of drugs and crime and their parents are really pleased.”

Ngwane describes her relationship with the youngsters as one similar to a family bond. “When they arrive for training their faces light up.  It’s a great feeling to know that I am making a difference in their lives,” concludes Ngwane.