The Banyana Banyana striker, who recently left Houston Dash in the United States to join Beijing BG Phoenix in the Chinese Super League, staved off stiff competition from the Nigerian duo of Asisat Oshoala and Fransisca Ordega to become only the second South African - after Noko Matlou in 2008 - to be the top woman footballer on the African continent.
The Player of the Year accolade was decided by a panel which included the CAF Technical and Development Committee, CAF Media Experts, Legends, Coaches and captains of the 54 member associations, while the Goal of the Year award was decided via online public voting (and the UWC community, including the alumni, surely played a role).
Kgatlana, who paused her studies at UWC to join Houston Dash last year, had a stellar season in 2018 and was crowned the Player of the Tournament and finished as the Top Goal Scorer at the African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana late last year.
“If anyone had told me that I would be an African Champion at 22 years old I would have probably killed them because they would be selling me dreams,” she said. “It has been a pretty tough journey and a very exciting 2018 for me. Seeing how I developed and improved my game since I joined Houston Dash has been the cherry on top.”
About the awards, Kgatlana said: “They may be individual awards but they carry so much meaning to me and to the country. They’re a motivation to all the girls in South Africa to keep on going and realise their dreams through football.”
Kgatlana has thanked everyone who has made her dreams come true, from the fans and her family, to her teammates and the coaching staff.
UWC Director of Sport Administration, Mandla Gagayi, congratulated Kgatalana and said she has set an impressive bar for all South African women footballers. “Her discipline and commitment to football, especially coming from a country where there is no professional league, is an envy of many football coaches and administrators,” Gagayi said. “As UWC Sport, we are proud to be associated with an athlete of her calibre. I hope that her achievement will compel the powers that be in football to really take women’s football in South Africa seriously by establishing a pro league”.