(Published - 11 January 2019)
UWC alumna and Africa’s best footballer Thembi Kgatlana has described it as a dream come true, and has thanked fans, for winning the continent’s Women’s Player of the Year and Goal of the Year awards.
On Tuesday evening the Banyana Banyana striker, who is now with Houston Dash in the United States, beat Nigerians Asisat Oshoala and Fransisca Ordega to become only the second South African - after Noko Matlou in 2008 - to be honoured as the best woman footballer by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). In addition, her stunning goal against Nigeria at the African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana late last year was voted the best in 2018 by the public.
“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 Ladies coach Nathan Peski congratulated her former star player, and said her achievements bear testimony to what can be achieved through belief, a good honest work ethic, and dedication to one’s dreams. He said UWC women’s football has for the last few years been in enviable form, winning leagues and championships and seeing many players drafted into the national team.
“These successes continue to grow UDUBS women’s football into a lucrative asset. A place where young girls enter with only a dream and leave with an education for life and the possibility of a football career. Study opportunities abroad as well as playing professional football are bonuses to those who dream even bigger.
“Young women like Thembi bring those dreams to reality. Not only has she proven that you can succeed, but that you can be the best on the continent. The stature of our institution, through the success of UWC women’s football, has never been higher. It is sure to attract even greater levels of success. We salute Thembi and others who have all helped raise the profile of our football abroad and nationally.”