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10 Feb

Miss Sundowns, Tebogo Mphahlele’s Life Of Service

Tebogo Mphahlele – a woman “after God’s heart” whose life has always been about acts of service from a young age. At almost 22 years of age, Tebo as she is affectionately known, has come to understand her purpose and that her life is rooted in having impact in her community and that of her loved ones.

Born and bred in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, Tebo is an only girl with two brothers. She is her father’s best friend and that’s where her love for football comes from. “He introduced me to this passion, hence I ended up playing football back in high school, coached by the Sundowns legend, Clement Mazibuko.” She is also her mother’s biggest fan, whom she refers to as her role model for her work ethic.

Tebo has always dreamt of being Miss Mamelodi Sundowns and Miss SA inspired by the likes of former Miss SA and entrepreneur Basetsana Kumalo. Miss Sundowns is her first pageant and she wishes to encourage young girls to be brave and not let their insecurities get the better of them in their quest to pursue their dreams. At her age, she has the cognizance of mind to define beauty standards for herself and she appreciates what Miss Sundowns stands for and how it has been a source of inspiration for her in growing in leadership roles especially for her Lead Young SA, a foundation she founded when she was 16 years old. The foundation is not the only thing Tebo has under her belt, the young model also founded the Women Network Africa where she gets to work with corporates and organisations to inspire hope in township football through donating football equipment to  academies in the townships, particularly in Daveyton where she grew up.

Tebo loves her reign as the current Miss Mamelodi Sundowns North and also because she has always been a football fan for most of her life. “What I’ve enjoyed about this journey is that you’re never ‘boxed’ as to “this is what you need to do during your reign,” instead your reign is what you make of it, and if you love the Mamelodi Sundowns brand, love the game of football, and love supporting the ladies and men’s teams, being at the games will be something that comes naturally to you. I’ve built such a beautiful relationship with some of our Masandawana fans (who are essentially family) and they have made this journey so pleasant. As it is with working with any other brand as an ambassador, there’s a certain manner in which you need to represent the brand when in public, and that’s the same with the Mamelodi Sundowns brand.”

With a heart for people and a passion to better women’s lived experiences, Tebo is disheartened by how women are still behind in their careers in football. She hopes to be a catalyst for change in the advancement of women in sport and hopes afford women more opportunities that not only empower them but reward them financially as well.

Armed with an Accounting degree from the University of Johannesburg, Tebo’s biggest dream is to become a Chartered Accountant, something she is currently studying towards. She sees herself being a CFO of some big entities as she continues to advance women’s causes.

Women are often sexualized and overlooked, pretty women like yourself are often mistaken for people who are not intelligent, lazy who are made to look like they need to rely on men to make it, how has your experience been?

I love how each day more women are breaking barriers and breaking glass-ceilings in their respective industries to further show that women can be beautiful outwardly, and still have immense intellect and impact in their fields. I’ve experienced questions of “How are you a Miss Sundowns Ambassador and aspire to be a Chartered Accountant at the same time?”, and such questions further show how society has ‘boxed’ women. Women are such multifaceted beings, and we really need to start believing that as women as well and start tapping into any industry that ignites our hearts, our passions and our purpose. 

Tebo is also inspired by former Miss SA Peggy-Sue Khumalo who is also the CEO of the Standard Bank Group’s Wealth Division and further cements her view on women’s limitless potential and not just based on how they look but their intellect and cognitive abilities.

Tebo’s biggest wish for South African women is them fully realizing their potential and being fearless in their pursuit for excellence. 

“It’s so important for us to step into our purpose in life, so many people’s dreams are tied onto our dreams in life, a lot of people are looking at us to succeed in order for them to realise that their dreams are also valid.”

On life after the reign

“There’s a saying that we say at Mamelodi Sundowns, and it’s that ‘The Yellow Sash never expires,’ so I’ll always be part of the club as an ambassador and I’ll still continue with my provincial obligations and projects as best as I can, even beyond my year of reign. This journey has further grown my passion for the football industry, so life after my reign will certainly still find me in the football industry, one way or another.”

The stunning Yellow Nation ambassador draws inspiration from ordinary individuals who are trying their  best to impact the lives of others around them. “Sometimes we overlook the role models that we have around us and eKasi and only celebrate the ones we see on TV, but we forget that they too need that ‘pat on the back’ to keep going. The old lady who wakes up at 3am each day and gets to Bree taxi rank at 5am each day (even in winter) just to sell fat cakes, that’s my inspiration, she inspires me just as much as the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe inspire me.” 

A Christian at the core, Tebo reads and meditates on the Bible as she believes that is her source of being. She is also very intentional about the company she keeps and the content she consumes on social media and in real-life. 

Some of her career highlights (even though she is only starting her corporate career now), include being able to host sold-out events and have big brands such as Nivea and Nedbank, partner with her and company. She also cites her ambassadorship with Mamelodi Sundowns as one of her biggest highlights. 

“I’ve been blessed to be able to be in rooms filled with my role models, and that will always be affirming to my journey. My Miss Mamelodi Sundowns journey has by far been the biggest highlight of my life journey, it has ignited a lot of passion in me for this industry and I’ve met so many incredible people and legends through it.“

What’s next?

“God willing, I have dreams of spreading my organisation ‘Women Network Africa’ across Africa and building women’s careers and lives across the continent. I want to continue contributing to our football industry, particularly through women football and through township football. I have aspirations of finally fully qualifying as a Chartered Accountant through SAICA and qualifying as a Chartered Global Management Accountant through the international body CIMA and I believe these designations will get me into many rooms where I can make more impactful decisions in our country. I just pray I can continue living a life of service and empowering others wherever I can, I also pray I can continue ‘wearing God’ well in my life, I think that’s the most important thing for me.” she concludes.

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