South Africa’s number one ranked fencer in the women’s sabre category, Nomvula Mbatha, has secured funding that will see her travel to an Olympic qualifier in Cairo, Egypt, this April.
“At first, I gave up on going to the Olympic qualifier but now I am happy. This decision made my December. I got so many calls, even on my personal phone – my Facebook was booming after the [News24] article,” Mbatha said at a training session in Randburg on Tuesday.
“Thank you News24, I didn’t think this would be big at all,” she added.
This after News24 reported in December last year that even though the young talent had ended 2019 on a winning note, she could not showcase her talents on the world stage due to a lack of funding.
Twenty-two-year-old fencing champion Nomvula Mbatha is taking South African fencing to a new level.
The article went viral, resulting in hundreds of potential funders reaching out to News24 to get in touch with Mbatha – including cellular giant Vodacom.
“This is not a sponsorship. This is empowerment. This is about providing opportunity and uplifting women in our communities,” Vodacom’s executive head of sponsorship, Michelle van Eyden, said.
Vodacom said when it heard of Mbatha’s story it wanted to support her because of what her opportunity and journey meant to the residents of Soweto.
“We are aware Nomvula is also busy with her coaching course in fencing, so by empowering her in this way, she has the potential to benefit her community through her sport in the long term. More than just our individual support of Nomvula, it’s a greater attitude and a culture that we are seeking to empower through what can come from her opportunity,” Van Eyden added.
Mbatha finished undefeated in the national women’s sabre fencing category during the Open Title Championships in KwaZulu-Natal in December, affording her the bragging rights of being the best fencer in the country.
The champion, who belongs to the Soweto Fencing Club, has been fencing since 2012 after she was introduced to the sport while still at primary school. She has been undefeated in the sabre fencing category since 2015.
Vodacom will pay for Mbatha’s trip to Cairo in April, coaching sessions she needs to prepare for the qualifier and new kit.
Mbatha has been “training like a mad man” since receiving the news, putting in six sessions a week ahead of the tournament.
The chairperson of Gauteng Fencing, Chris Mostert, said this opportunity would allow her to make an immense impact in her community.
“Now, with this opportunity from Vodacom, she has the opportunity to become a major inspiration, and that’s what we’re equally excited about. At Gauteng Fencing, we have created a culture of empowerment and we are deeply grateful to Vodacom for supporting this through their support of Nomvula,” he added.