17 October 2018 – Inside the 18-yard box, where panic strikes the heart of many defenders and adrenaline pumps throw the veins of attacking players, Chelsea Daniels is the most calm, always looking for pockets to play the ball.
That state of mind always allows the South African national under-17 (Bantwana) attacker to either find a perfect spot to place her shot, or either lay it off onto the path of a fellow teammate who might be in a perfect position to shoot for goal.
However, Daniels was not as this composed coming into this year’s SAFA U19 Women’s Regional League Championship which took place at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto where her home province, the Western Cape, finished third earlier this month.
Her sole mission was to see herself finish as the tournament’s top goal-scorer.
South Africa’s national under-20 head coach, Maude Khumalo, who was serving as SAFA’s national selector for the Association’s national teams, saw that hunger in her player and decided to give her a tip that would help transform her play, while also achieving her goal at the same time in that tournament.
“Coach Maude walked up to me after our first group match and told me that I needed to be more of a team player,” Daniel says. “By that she meant that instead of always opting to shoot towards the goalmouth while I am in the box, lifting my head to see who is in better position to score will make me of effective for the team. Her advice helped a lot because I started enjoying my game even more. I became more effective for my side from that day onwards.”
Not only that, Daniels also achieved her personal goal of finishing as the tournament’s top goal-scorer. The Bantwana 16-year old striker netted 12 goals while playing a massive role in helping her fellow teammates shine up in the attacking third as well.
Those impressive tidings reached Bantwana head coach’s, Simphiwe Dludlu ears, and she rewarded her with a call-up to form part of the provisional 26 women squad which reports for camp this Wednesday (17 October 2018) preparing for the upcoming FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup set to take in Uruguay.
Daniels was not part of the Bantwana squad which travelled to Spain for their scheduled two friendly matches against UD Lavante and Valencia CF the previous month. A crucial document was missing her travelling papers and was therefore forced to remain behind.
This was another reason why the Blackheath-born player wanted to feature in this year’s women’s interprovincial tournament. Daniels simply wanted to sharpen her game before the main football event kicked off.
“I went to that tournament with a single aim,” Daniel says. “And that was to finish as its top goal-scorer. Every day I would walk up to the grounds before the matches kicked off, and just pray so that dream of mine would come to true. And I am so glad it did,” she adds with a light chuckle coming across her voice.
“My dream is dream is to play for Arsenal Ladies FC (in England) one day,” Daniels continues. “That is where my sights are set (regarding her dream move as a football player) at the moment. I am not going to put too much pressure on myself. I intend to study as well. I want to pursue a career in teaching as something to fall back on, as we all know, football is a short term career and one always has to have an alternative plan to earn a living.