From an outsider perspective, being in a relationship with a professional athlete might seem glamorous and opulent.
But, like with any relationship, the WAGs (wives and girlfriends) of sports stars are not immune to challenges.
“Sports Wives”, a brand-new local reality series produced by Ndlovukazi Concepts, gives viewers a front-row seat to the lives of the wives, girlfriends and exes of South Africa’s sporting greats.
And while high fashion, fast cars and mansions are the order of the day, the show also reflects on the hardships faced by these women.
From navigating the dynamics of a same-sex marriage, having two football baby daddies, marital troubles and putting the love of the game above all else, “Sports Wives” reveals it all.
And, if the first episode is anything to go by, tensions are sure to mount as the women face off against each other.
The premiere episode saw shore excursion officer Sisanda Cetiywe, who had a child with former Sundowns goalkeeper and Zambia’s most capped football player, Kennedy Mweene, get into it with fellow cast member Bomzi September.
The banking app manager and mother of two is married to ex-footballer Thabo September, who is now second assistant coach at his old team SuperSport United.
The conflict stemmed from September’s former partner, who Cetiywe claims she was still with when her relationship with the SuperSport United legend began.
Cetiywe was even bold enough to announce to September, at a dinner table full of fellow WAGs, that she knew her ex.
This irked many of the women, who insisted that the controversial topic of conversation was not the finest dining topic.
“People have always been curious about this world and now is their chance to see it for what it is,” Cetiywe said about her appearance on the show.
And while this encounter was reasonably calm, it set the stage for what is expected to ensue for the rest of the season.
With episodes dropping every Tuesday, the trailer for the remainder of the first season of “Sports Wives” hints at how conflicts between the ladies are expected to escalate – with a drink even being thrown into the face of one of them.
And while the “mean girl” narrative is sure to be a central point of the show, it is also set to touch on several other relationship dynamics within the sporting realm.
Banyana Banyana star Bambanani Mbane’s marriage to Tsholo Makgalemele-Mbane also takes centre stage.
The first episode revealed that her 31-year-old stay-at-home wife’s family was not fully accepting of her marriage initially.
“In the beginning, my family was not supportive of my relationship but now things are different. I can now fully be myself around everyone I love,” she said.
Meanwhile, Yummy Mummy Apparel owner Dipuo Maloi is no stranger to the spotlight as she has become notorious as a tabloid regular.
The 37-year-old has two football baby daddies. The first is Andile Jali, who has played for Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates, while the father of her second son is Sundowns and now Moroka Swallows footballer Lantshene Phalane.
Ironically, both sportsmen are now Moroka Swallows teammates.
“So much has been said about me and most of it is not true,” Dipuo insisted ahead of the show’s premiere.
“I wanted to tell my story in my own words. I am the author of my life and this platform has helped me clear a few misconceptions.”
Challenging relationship dynamics also extends to Clarrisa Manaças’s life, as during the first episode showed just how her rocky relationship with Lionel Mapoe – a two-time Currie Cup champion who played as a utility back for the Springboks and Vodacom Bulls – really was.
The couple share children and have been together for 12 years. But Manaças confessed to September on the show that she was tired of side-lining her dreams for Mapoe’s career to take centre stage.
While they were still together when “Sports Wives” was filmed, the couple ended their engagement earlier this year.
“The show helped me through my breakup and it has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself,” she said.
It is also not completely smooth sailing for Christa Kgamphe-Jane, who is in a long distance marriage with Banyana Banyana star Refiloe Jane, who is currently based in Italy as she plays for Serie A club US Sassuolo.
“We miss each other a lot so to make sure that we stay close and connected, we communicate a lot,” the 37-year-old sports manager, masseuse and lecturer explained.
Meanwhile, Bomzi – like her co-stars – knows all too well that being married to a professional athlete often means that “the game” comes first.
“When you are married to an athlete, your life becomes sports,” the 34-year-old admitted.
“Luckily for me, I love sports, and being with my husband has nurtured that side of me more.”
Infidelity is also rife in the sporting fraternity but for Bomzi, she insists that her husband is respectful to their marriage.
“My husband has shielded me from that; I have never had to deal with anything crazy. I am blessed to have a husband who respects me.”
Kgamphe-Jane echoed similar sentiments.
“I mean she is very hot and seeing how much women want her makes me feel more proud that she’s mine.”
Meanwhile, Maloi insists that she is done with footballers.
“I have a man in my life right now who is not a footballer and our relationship has been so peaceful: no drama and no stress.”
The show’s creator and executive producer, Nonhlanhla Dhlamini, promised to show the ladies in their truest form.
“We didn’t shy away from the realities of exes of professional athletes who have had to find their way after leaving the glitzy life of being girlfriends to soccer stars,” she said.
∎ “Sports Wives” is currently streaming on Showmax, with new episodes dropping every Tuesday.