Ria Ivy Ledwaba, Woman of the year 1999

The overall and sport category winner of Shoprite Checkers / SABC3 Woman of the Year Award was Ria Ivy Ledwaba, an accomplished soccer administrator and team owner from the Northern Province. Before winning the Award Ria was deputy director for Local Government and Traditional affairs for the Northern Province, but resigned to pursue her soccer interests and the development of the sport in the Northern Province on a full time basis.

Ria believes in the saying “Where there is a will, there’s a way”, and has always had a love for soccer and a deep understanding of the developmental role the sport can play in the lives of underprivileged young boys. She is the founder of the Ria Stars football club that have achieved great success in the First Division and produced several players who have gone on to achieve national fame.

Ria has also given her time to voter education campaigns and community work, including sports development tours for sports men and women from the Northern Province.

Winning the Shoprite Checkers / SABC3 Woman of the Year Award was a turning point in Ria’s life. “The exposure of winning the Award boosted moral and it helped to get Ria Stars promoted to the Premier League in that same year. I furthermore ploughed all the prize money I won back into the team, enabling me for the first time to provide financial incentives, which motivated them to win all their remaining games. That ensured our promotion to the Premier League.”

Her message to the nominees is that they are already winners by the mere fact that they have been nominated. “Look forward to the most exciting time of your lives.”

Speaking of the future Ria says although she still serves in three SAFA Sub committees including SASCOC, she has already ventured into another male dominated industry - air conditioning. “My company Ifihlile Air Conditioning has the sole right to distribute the brand Gree into Africa. There are almost 75 air conditioning distributors and I am proud to say Gree is rated amongst the top 5 in the country. “We are the only South African black owned air conditioning Company. I am also a director of Reboni Furniture Factory, the largest supplier of school furniture in Africa, and a director of Great African Seating (GAS) a manufacturer of chairs. We intend to be the first air conditioning company to establish a manufacturing plant in Africa,” she concludes.

Today Ria is still humbled by the experience of becoming overall winner of the Shoprite Checkers/SABC 3 Woman of the year after winning the sport category of the Award in 1999. “It changed my life forever” said Ms Ledwaba, whose dedication to sport and sport Administrator and football club owner saw her walk away with the premier accolade for achievement by women. She is now often invited to participate as director of different companies because of the achievement.


 

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