Tumi Mkhuma is showing me her photo album in the small room she rents in a tough neighbourhood on the eastern outskirts of Johannesburg. “That’s me when I was 11 – wearing trousers of course,” she says. “I knew I was gay even as a young child.”
Chosen Few, South Africa’s only openly gay female football team, was created in 2004 by the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) to fill a void for many of the passionate, soccer-loving women who attended their sessions but who had been expelled from their township teams because of their sexuality.
The Chosen Few – who cannot afford tickets to any World Cup games – play regularly against other South African female sides but this black lesbian ensemble raises conservative hackles sufficiently to be barred from formal competition. “There are other teams where there are lesbians but the coaches don’t allow them to be who they want to be,” Marumolwa says. “They know we are who we want to be and we are free.”