19 February 2019 Banyana Banyana forward and Africa’s Woman Player of the Year, Thembi Kgatlana, has partnered with LaLiga in promoting Women’s Football.

As part of formalizing this relationship, she took time off her busy schedule to visit her former school AB Phokompe Secondary in Mohlakeng, Randfontein in the West Rand and with the help of her new partner, the Spanish football league, donated a number of footballs to the school. The balls will mostly be used to promote women’s football at the school and within the community.

Kgatlana, who also won the 2018 CAF Goal of the Year award, is excited to have partnered with LaLiga and this is one of the first collaborated projects that is aimed at further highlighting the women’s game.

Kgatlana gave a motivational talk to the students, urging them to focus on their education so they can have something to fall back on when their short football careers are over.

“It was an emotional return to the school that gave me direction as a young girl – seeing all those students showed that I have indeed come a long way. They can achieve what I have done provided they focus on what they are doing whether it is sport or education,” she said.

“The truth is, not everyone will become a football or sports star, so is important that one takes education seriously to safe guard their future. Also note football is a very short career and besides, you still need a bit of education to read your contracts or agreements with various parties to avoid being short-changed,” said Kgatlana.

“I would like to thank the teachers who guided me early on in life, because if it wasn’t for them, I would not be where I am today. But most importantly, my greatest gratitude goes to LaLiga who did not hesitate when an opportunity to work with them presented itself. I am confident what we are seeing today is the beginning of a long journey for the betterment of the women’s game.”

This is the first partnership between LaLiga and a women player in South Africa, and, already, more projects have been lined up – one of them being the annual Thembi Kgatlana football tournament that will be played towards the end of the year in Mohlakeng. (More details will follow).

Since their arrival in South Africa, LaLiga has joined forces with various community development games in several of SAFA Regions and the Association (SAFA) considers them one of their trusted partners in football development.

“LaLiga firmly supports women’s football in Spain and abroad, as it was shown with the trip of the U17 South Africa woman team’s stage in Valencia, prior to their participation in the FIFA World Cup in Uruguay. Now, LaLiga is excited about these new projects that will impact women football players in South Africa, both with Thembi Kgatlana and with SAFA,” said Enrique Suay, LaLiga delegate in South Africa, during the event.

Speaking on behalf of the school, Principal Themba Shela said it was an hour to be visited by their former student who had now become a superstar.

“We are glad to see you back here, which is very clear that you haven’t forgotten your roots. You visit us at a time when Banyana Banyana is on a high, but most importantly whey you as an individual are on the lips of every person because of your personal achievements. We are proud of what you have become, and for putting this school on the map,” said Shela.

“You walk in the footsteps of former great athletes who studied here – among others, Ace Khuse who played for Kaizer Chiefs and Bobang Phiri who competed in three Olympic Games. You have been very exemplary, and I hope your message that education and sports go together, fell into the right ears. As Mandela said, education is the only weapon that can take you out of poverty. Thanks for honouring us by coming back here.”

Kgatlana and her Banyana Banyana teammates assemble for a training camp on Wednesday, 20 February 2019, to kick start preparations for the 2019 Cyprus Women’s Cup, taking place from 27 February to 6 March 2019.

The tournament is to get the squad ready for the FIFA Women’s World Cup scheduled for France from 27 February to 6 March.

South Africa has been drawn in Group A alongside Finland, Czech Republic and Korea DPR.

The squad departs for Cyprus on Saturday, 23 February with their first match set for Wednesday, 27 February.

Meanwhile Kgatlana has been nominated for the 2018 Most Influential Young South African in the category of sports to vote for her the link is sa.avancemedia.organd you can vote as many times as you like. Voting closes on Monday, 25 February 2019.