(Published - 21 January 2020)
UWC alumna Babalwa “Bee Beast” Latsha’s historic journey to be the first South African woman rugby player to turn professional started on a high note. She scored 20 points for her new Spanish rugby club, SD Eibar Femenino, at the weekend.
Latsha, who graduated from UWC with her LLB last year, made her debut on Sunday and scored four tries as her new employers outclassed Murcia 96-0.
The Springbok women’s rugby captain has penned a contract with Eibar until the end of the 2019/20 season, with an option for renewal. She impressed the Spanish scouts when she starred for the Boks as they took on Spain in Despatch in September last year.
“This is a great opportunity to improve my craft as a player and to engage with different cultures, and be exposed to different ways of playing,” the Khayelitsha-born Latsha said. “The key thing is that I will be learning from my new teammates and be able to transfer that knowledge back home for the benefit of my fellow players and the team as a whole so I can be more effective in the national team.''
Latsha, a big fan of former Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira, would like it to be the norm for South African women rugby players to become fully-fledged professionals.
“I think that women's sports across the board can be more supported financially so that we are able to make a proper living out of sport, because we love sport.”
The former footballer who only started playing rugby in 2014, aims to make good use of her LLB degree or whatever qualification she will be pursuing in future within the sporting fraternity - particularly in rugby structures - for the advancement of women. But that dream is on hold for a short while as she intends to focus on her professional rugby career.
In true UWC fashion, Latsha has strong links with the community, which was evident when a big group of sportspeople and members of her church turned up at the airport to give her a memorable send-off.
“To me, family and community are the most important things. The community of Khayelitsha and Cape Town in general are the people who have always encouraged me - who go watch me at the stadium, and who are proud when they watch me on TV or read about me in newspapers. They have seen my downfalls and they have seen my successes, and I also partake in coaching in Khayelitsha to strengthen that relationship. I try by all means to be a positive influence on youngsters - to just be a shining light within my community.”
Latsha has thanked UWC and the South African Rugby Legends, Lwazi Mzozoyana in particular, for their support throughout her career, and called on young girls to never stop dreaming.
“Dream big because dreams do come true, but work hard towards that dream so that when the opportunity comes, it finds you ready and fit in all aspects,” she said. “We grow up in disadvantaged communities where, statistically, we are bound to fail. But the key thing is to keep the hope alive that one day things will change.”