The Ladies with Style (2022) | Bafana ba Style

Review: ‘The Ladies with Style’ – ‘Banyana ba Style’ (2022)

The Ladies with Style (Banyana ba Style) was showcased at the BrandStorytelling 2024 event in Utah, which ran in parallel to Sundance. The event honored this film from first-time Director Caroline Brouckaert, because it so effectively melded entertainment, impact, and purpose, and because it was their first selection to get distributed by a major platform (Netflix).

I often complain how so much sports streaming content is really just infomercials. Until now, I didn’t know there was an industry trade show event to celebrate those efforts.

But The Ladies with Style is different because it doesn’t feel like an infomercial for the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club. Brouckaert spends quite a bit of time showing you the background of the female footballers and the barriers they overcame. These women play in order to keep breaking down those barriers for the next generation.

The film also showcases how football improves lives. Besides giving the women a happy escape from the earlier trauma and/or bad influences in their lives, football helps them earn a living, build a house for parents, or buy a car.

The Story

The film covers the participation of the Mamelodi Sundowns womens team in the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League in 2021 in Cairo, Egypt. While the team gets all the way to the Final without giving up a goal, the competition is a big adjustment for them because in their domestic league, they often win by double digits.

Interspersed with the games are the back stories of the players and Coach Jerry Tshabalala. He cries when the team makes it to the Final. He has lost his wife and family to the demands of soccer. While a Final doesn’t replace them, perhaps it is relief that overcomes him. A Champions League final is real progress after 10 years with the club.

Also interwoven with the games is the history of womens football in South Africa. Portia Modise, a former player who scored 100 goals for the WNT (nicknamed Banyana Banyana – the girls), talks about her career and how she advocated for the women to be fairly paid.

“We’re not planning to raise our daughters the way we were raised. They need to know what they’re worth.”

Portia Modise

A little bit of the USWNT’s fight for #EqualPay is highlighted. The women sound determined to follow the USWNT lead, and it helps that the Sundowns club, led by Chairman Tlhopie Motsepe, seems to be supportive of all South African female footballers.

The film pretty much skirts the issue of the pandemic, although all the games are played in stadiums without any fans. GK Andile Dlamini, always flashing a brilliant smile, mentions that she has just recovered from a cardiac issue brought on by COVID. It is only by researching that I discover she hadn’t played for 5-6 months.

In Conclusion

The soccer consists of highlights from the games, as well as women and children playing street soccer. Street soccer is where the women first honed their skills.

I had a little confusion with the title of the film. It turns out that the Mamelodi Sundowns mens team has many nicknames, which are also applied to the womens team. The nicknames include: Bafana ba style (for the boys), Banyana ba style (for the girls), Ka bo Yellow, The Brazilians, and Masandawana.

Note that in 2022, Coach Jerry took the Sundowns back to the CAF Champions League, in Morocco, where they came in 2nd. And in 2023, they won the Championship again.

Also note that Lori York sold this film to Netflix along withThe Queenstown Kings, which is a fictionalized drama about the redemption of a former star of the Sundowns men.

The Ladies with Style is very well done, and congratulations to Director Caroline Brouckaert for taking brand storytelling far beyond an infomercial.

8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8