Aspiring footballers in this year’s Varsity Women’s Football tournament don’t have to look far for a source of inspiration.
Banyana Banyana and Atlético Madrid star Thembi Kgatlana cut her teeth with UWC in Varsity Football and won the FNB Player of the Tournament award in 2014.
Today, she is rubbing shoulders with some of the best players in the world in Spain’s Primera División and the Uefa Champions League, week in and week out.
In 2018, the soft-spoken midfielder won the Caf Women’s Player of the Year award and she scored the only goal for Banyana at the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
Varsity Football changed Kgatlana’s life and she continues to achieve big things every time she steps onto the pitch to represent her country.
Last week, Kgatlana inspired Banyana to victory in the Aisha Buhari tournament in Lagos, scoring two goals. South Africa defeated Nigeria’s Super Falcons 4-2 in the final.
UWC director of sport Mandla Gagayi believes Kgatlana would not be where she is today without Varsity Football.
‘You cannot mention Thembi’s success without mentioning Varsity Football,’ says Gagayi. ‘The tournament changes lives and it certainly changed the life of our superstar. There is a lack of opportunities in women’s football, and Varsity Football allowed Thembi to display her God-given talent.’
Gagayi says Kgatlana has not forgotten where she came from and calls him regularly to check up on the team.
‘She gives back financially and conducts clinics and motivational talks,’ adds Gagayi. ‘She made it, but remains modest about her achievements.
‘She came to UWC after being denied admission at the University of Pretoria. We took her in and look at what she has achieved.’
By Charles Baloyi