The UP-Tuks Women’s Football team will be captained by 23-year-old midfielder Natasha De Almeida in her first year of representing the University of Pretoria at the Varsity Women’s Football tournament.
De Almeida started playing football when she was seven years old for Beira International School in Mozambique after being inspired to take up the sport by her father.
After finishing school at Maputo International School, De Almeida opted to pursue a Bachelors degree in Dietetics at the University of Pretoria. She also joined the UP-Tuks Women’s Football Club and has been part of the system for the last four years, which has prepared De Almeida well for her new responsibility.
“Although I’ve never played in this tournament before, I’ve been part of this team for a while now and know the players, management staff and structures like the back of my hand. I have been unknowingly preparing for this moment since I joined the club four years ago but I’m still learning every day,” said De Almeida.
In fact, this interview marked her very first football interview and De Almeida acknowledged the incredible platform that Varsity Football provides its players.
“It feels a bit weird to be asked all these questions about the team, my leadership ability and so on. I’ve never really thought about all of this before but that is the beauty of the tournament. It allows us to get a taste of what professional football is like while we are still studying. I think Varsity Football is a fantastic initiative,” exclaimed De Almeida.
Leading UP-Tuks will be no easy feat as the University of Pretoria had a forgettable Varsity Women’s Football campaign last season where they failed to win a single match but De Almeida is dead set on leading by example and taking it one match at a time.
“We have trained hard and we are ready. Personally I want to inspire my players with my performances while keeping their focus on taking it a match at a time. Getting our campaign off to a good start against UJ is all that we want,” said a determined De Almeida.
The Varsity Women’s Football tournament will be held at the North West University between 21-23 September. UP-Tuks face UJ on the Friday while they will be up against UWC and NWU-Potch on the Saturday.
By Dan Lombard