I love my WGILS

Songelwa – SCORE Program Coordinator, Mbekweni Community Sport Centre

Netball player Songelwa Sicuku always strives to be undefeatable, both in life and on the court. The 32-year-old founder of WGILS (Women and Girls in Leadership through Sport) lives and works in Mbekweni, a township close to Cape Town, South Africa. Her love of sport led her to become a role model.

Complete the sentence: I love netball and…  

Cycling! I completed my first Cape Argus Cycle Tour (the world’s largest timed cycle race held annually in Cape Town) in 2012. Of course I also love my WGILS (pronounced “We Girls”)!

Who are WGILS?
Girls between the ages of 14 to 16 and women between 17 and 24. We’re basically a circle of friends who meet regularly and support each other. We have two groups at the moment, one in Khayelitsha and the other in Mbekweni (both townships in Cape Town).

When WGILS get together...
We play sport, hang out and talk, talk, talk! My girls and I talk about everything — school, trouble at home, how we’re feeling. We even talk about sex, which is taboo in our (Xhosa) culture, but very important to get out in the open.
We also talk about drugs, alcohol, sugar daddies, rape, HIV Aids.

What led you to start WGILS?
I’ve been involved with SCORE ever since I was a little kid. After I finished school SCORE put me on a few leadership and coaching courses. I began coaching netball in Khayelitsha and after practice we would talk about all the issues bothering them. Normal teenage issues, like boyfriend and school troubles, but also some issues that are unfortunately normal in Khayelitsha but shouldn’t be, like sexual abuse. I realised that I was the only older women these girls could talk to who they could totally trust. So with the support of SCORE we formalised it and created WGILS in 2008.

Tell us what sport means to you:
Everything! My parents died when I was young. We had no money and I was left to take care of my younger brothers, both of whom have disabilities. Because of this I never had a proper childhood, and until I joined SCORE when I was seven I had never really played with other kids. I may not be a pro athlete, but sport is my life. Without it I’d be lost.