Alive&Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa

Lara-Ann de Wet
  • South Africa, USA
  • 2015
  • 20min
  • DCP
  • Color
  • Asian Premiere
Non-CompetitionDocs Family
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Filmed in the heart of Limpopo, the village grannies ‘Vhakegula, Vhakegula’ lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way through centuries of taboos. They play serious soccer then break into laughter and traditional song as they wage a singular fight for a decent life, true health and a snatch at joy in a brutal world.


  • Lara-Ann de Wet
    Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa (2016)
Director's Statement
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 very notion. Alive & Kicking is 20 minute social documentary that serves not only to capture the struggles of many South Africans but through the game of soccer is as a testament to the vibrant and enduring nature of the elderly women of South Africa. 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 and 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 grandmothers take on the game of soccer to emotionally & physically empower themselves. In doing so they triumphantly bring about an infectious joy to all and a colourful cause for celebration.


NKOWANKOWA, a small village in southern Africa, has grannies who have survived long years. Their long years tells that each of grannies has own stories. One granny, who lost her son and spent time weeping every day, overcame by praying to God and the experience of almost dying from a severe disease would have been so painful to be unspeakable. A day packed with stories with depth and width might be extremely long. Some parts of a body have been distorted and hurt. Finally, soccer has come to such daily life. Even though soccer is an active sport and playing it requires lots of physical strength, playing soccer has become grannies’ routine. Running every morning and keeping to a diet while giving up their favorite food, they get to overcome pain and pursuit pleasure.
Their wild movement such as kicking is itself a resistant action against the traditional pressure and social conventions. A soccer’s invasion to the culture which is structured with conventions. Admittedly, cultures and civilizations keep clashing with one another in a small or sizable scale as always, though I am sure it is not easy and common for grannies to bring the soccer to their daily life. Grannies survived a disease, sorrowfulness from the loss of the son and ill health of their bodies. Now soccer has replaced their religion, songs and dance. [Kim Sang-hwa]


  • Director, Producer, Editor  Lara-Ann de Wet
  • Cinematographer  Yusaku Kanagawa
  • Sound  Pepe Alvarez Gales
  • Cast  Vhakegula Vhakegula, Mama beka: Rebeca Ntsanwisi, Jack Abrahams

Distribution / World Sales