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African Woman Footballer of the Year Thembi Kgatlana Inspires UWC students

Author: Aidan van den Heever & Myolisi Gophe

African Woman Footballer of the Year Thembi Kgatlana hosted a coaching clinic at the UWC on 24 January 2019, passing on her expertise to pupils from the Western Cape Sport School - and inspiring students and staff at the same time.

(Published - 24 January 2019)

African Woman Footballer of the Year and 2018 African Best Goal scorer Thembi Kgatlana hosted a coaching clinic at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) today (24 January 2019).

In true UWC fashion, Kgatlana wasted no time when she arrived on campus passing on her skills and expertise to pupils from the Western Cape Sport School. She took the team through various drills to keep their techniques sharp and showed them agility drills, as well as how to deal with pressure on the ball. Then she turned to address students, staff and fans.

“As a black female athlete raised in the township, we are often faced with challenges, and I had to learn to rise above all negative things to reach my dreams,” she told the cheering crowd.

“It is not easy making a career out of football in South Africa, as there are no professional football teams here. I hope my story of success inspires and serves as a beacon of hope to all young women.”

The 22-year-old former UWC Ladies FC striker, who signed with Houston Dash in the United States last year, has had a stellar season in the past 12 months. She was recently named as the African Women’s Player of the Year and received the 2018 Goal of the Year award from the Confederation of African Football.

The recognitions came shortly after the Johannesburg-born Kgatlana was chosen as Player of the Tournament and finished as the Top Goal Scorer at the African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana late last year.

“I am very grateful to be one of very few women in the country to have made football my career. I thank UWC Sport, Houston Dash Football team, SASOL and SAFA for the opportunities they have given me over the years - which helped me on my journey.”

Sporting Ambassador: From Hope To Action

Professor Umesh Bawa, Director of the UWC International Relations Office, welcomed Kgatlana as a true ambassador for the University, both as sporting inspiration as well as a student.

“Thembi epitomises many strong values of UWC, such as hard work, vision and resilience - the collective efforts which helped Banyana Banyana to succeed,” he said.

Kgatlana believes that sport can help others be successful as well. She has started her own tournament to plough back into her community in Johannesburg, and is seen as a motivational figure for many women footballers in the developing world.

She thanked the University for helping her reach these highlights in her career, and for helping to promote the importance of sport.

“I’d like to thank the UWC community for the support they have given me over the years,” she said.

Niven Maree, UWC Alumni Relations Manager, inducted Kgatlana as an alumna ambassador, and saluted her for the contribution that she has made to African women’s football, and the banner she flies for UWC.

“Thembi, you are testimony to the rewards that can be reaped through perseverance, hard work and dedication. You are a role model - and as such, we are proud and honoured to call you a UWC alumna.”

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