The Voice Of The Game: Football Commentator Khangelwa Bomvana

Khanyisile Brukwe, 19 August 2020

When it comes to football, Khangelwa Bomvana is the full package – not only has she been a celebrated player, coach and referee, but she’s also pursuing a promising career as one of Africa’s few successful female sports commentators.

As a young girl in a small village called Ntlalontle, Ladyfrere in the Eastern Cape, Khangelwa Bomvana developed an interest in football while playing street games with boys in her community. That interest grew into a fiery passion – one which has taken her to soccer success as a player, coach and referee. And she continues to rise, defying gender norms as an excellent sporting commentator on radio and beyond.

“I do face many challenges of being a female commentator, as we all know it’s a male dominant field,” she reflects. “But my experience as a referee, a coach and a player have enabled me to stand up for myself and voice out my opinions with confidence.” 

Bomvana’s coaches at school encouraged her to pursue her football passions, and when she moved to Cape Town to attend Masibambisane High School in Delft she joined her first  club. 

“I joined my first team called City Lovers for Ladies in Philippi,” she recalls. “It was nothing like what I expected – but I learned so much, and that helped me polish my skills.” 

When she moved from Delft, nearly a decade ago, Bomvana had no trouble finding another club. She played for Portia FC in Khayelitsha in the Coca Cola tournament at Athlone Stadium, where she helped them come out as runner-ups. She was then scouted by one of the biggest clubs – at the time – Siyadlala FC in Hermanus.  “I won many cups but the biggest honour was receiving the Mayoral Cup.”

She continued learning about sports, beyond just playing, obtaining a level 1 and 2 in football refereeing, completing a Sport Admin and Coaching course – and also graduated with a Human Resources Management diploma from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Bomvana first put her coaching skills in her current team, Portia FC. 

In 2013, she auditioned in Port Elizabeth for a commentary competition:  “I was one of the few selected and on 18 February 2014 I was given the opportunity to be a commentator in Athlone Stadium in a match between Ajax Cape Town and Pirates.” 

These skills came in handy after she suffered a groin injury a short while later, ending her playing career in 2015 – and starting a climb to new levels of achievement.  

A Woman’s Voice In A Man’s Sport – Being Better

Bomvana grew up watching female commentators Carol Tshabalala and Kass Naidoo. These women – as well as UMhlobo Wenene commentators like Zingisile Mathiso, Mthura Scott and Zolani Bonco who are today are her colleagues – influenced her to look beyond just being a player. 

“Being one of the first female commentators on radio was not easy at all, because many people were not ready to accept the change – they were so used to hearing male voices in their commentary,” she shares. “Some will watch and note even the smallest mistakes you might make – and they’ll be so much worse than when males do them, just because you’re a woman.”

Bomvana believes it is important for young women to have passion and love for the sport because of the discrimination that awaits, they need to socialize and watch soccer with different people in order to hear a variety of opinions and develop a better understanding of the game. 

Thus far, she has commentated at the 2016 CAF Champions League final where Mamelodi Sundowns were crowned champions, at the UEFA Euro in the same year and African Cup of Nations. The 2014 and 2018 Fifa World Cup, the Nedbank Cup final, Telkom Knockout, ABC League final, NFD final playoff, Sasol Women’s League final and the Two Oceans Marathon as well as the Cape Town Marathon.

She hopes to explore her talents on TV as well, and dreams of having her own foundation someday, where she can help young women leaders to pursue their dreams. 

“I didn’t get here all on my own: it’s through the guidance of people like the late Loyiso Sitsheke and coach Mluleki Ntsabo that I am where I am as a sports commentator,” she says. “My former coaches – Pumzile Bika and Nkululeko Nofotyo – all played a big role in my football career. And my late father Poko Bomvana, who loved football just as much as I do – I like to think he’s looking down and smiling at me right now.”