13 July 2020 – Banyana Banyana defender Nothando Vilakazi says that after her short stint in Lithuania for Gintra Universitates, she received several offers but took her time as she waiting for the right one.

“I think I gave a good account of myself in Lithuania, and it did not come as a surpirse when the offers came through, but I wanted to be sure that the next move is a step up my career – so I had to wait for the right offer,” said an excited Vilakazi.

And it happened this past week when she was snapped up by Spanish side EDF Logroño for the 2020/2021 season.

Escuelas de Fútbol de Logroño (Logroño Football Schools) – is a Spanish women’s football club based in Logrono and currently plays in the Primera Division.

Logrono is the capital of La Rioja, a tiny region four hours north of Madrid, perfectly situated between cities like Bilbao, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Burgos and Zaragoza.

They won the Regional Division in the 2011/12 season. In 2018 they were promoted to the Primera Division.

They were seventh on the table when the league was stopped due to the corona virus pandemic.

Vilakazi is currently at home in South Africa waiting for her Visa application to be processed before she jets off to join her new teammates.

Their new league season starts in September.

“I can’t wait to get that side, I am itching to get back on the field after the whole world was sidelined by Covid-19. I am so happy and excited that I have been able to secure this move to Spain, which is one of the top leagues when it comes to women’s football,” said Vilakazi.

“I am confident this new venture will, without doubt, improve my football, which in return will benefit the national team immensely.”

Vivo, as she is fondly known to her friends and teammates, says she knows she has the weight of the country on her shoulders.

“All the players who are based abroad are ambassadors and we need to set good examples and standards for those that are back home or those that will follow in our footsteps, so yes there is a lot of pressure on all of us – but it is the kind that motivates us to well and represent our country in a most outstanding way. To be honest, I am excited and nervous at the same time – excited about the move, but also nervous that I am going to a new country, which means new beginnings. This is a really a dream come true,” added Vivo.

“I am confident this will help Banyana Banyana to be stronger as we now have several players moving abroad – I believe, though, that more players should join overseas teams for the benefit of women’s football in South Africa. Let’s just hope that what we are doing will open more doors for the talent we have in our country.”

Vivo becomes the second Banyana Banyana player to sign for an overseas club in recent times.

She follows hot on the heels of forward Jermaine Seoposenwe who put pen to paper when she moved from Spain (Real Betis) to Portugual to be on the books of Sporting Braga.

Both players were together in Lithuania.

And the duo is among a group of South African women players plying their trade abroad – Bambanani Mbane (Belarus); Linda Motlhalo (Sweden); Thembi Kgatlana (Portugal); Ode Fulutudilu (Finland); Zanele Nhlapo (Albania); Rachel Sebati and Letago Madiba (Turkey) and Regina Mogolola (Serbia) among others.

Speaking through her club’s website, Vilakazi had this to say after signing her new contract.

“Hello my name is Nothando Vilakazi, I am from South Africa. I am very excited to be joining the team, this is definitely a move I have been waiting for. As a hard working, reliable and experienced defender the team is going to benefit from me, as much as I am from them. I cannot wait for this exciting new journey to begin, as I am always open to gaining new football knowledge from my coach and teammates, and also learning the beautiful Spanish language. Gracias. Adios.”

Vilakazi becomes the sixth signing of Logrono after the arrival of Olga García, Paloma Tajonar, Julie Tavlo, Inés Juan Altamira and Marta Cazalla.

This is how the club welcomed her:

“Club Deportivo Escuelas de Fútbol de Logroño would like to welcome Nothando Vilakazi to the club, the team, the city and all of La Rioja (Logrono). We are  convinced that this hiring brings more potential to the team, and we also hope that her arrival will help us reach the objectives of the club.”

She was recruited by first team coach Gerardo García León and will be expected to join the side for pre-season training as soon as the start of the league is confirmed.

Fact File: Nothando Vilakazi

Name:                       Nothando
Last Name:              Vilakazi

Nickname:                Vivo
Birth Place:              Middelburg (Mpumalanga)
Age:                           32
Position:                   Defence – Left Back

Previous clubs:        Moroka Swallows, Palace Super Falcons, FK Gintra Universitetas (Lithuania), TUT Pretoria

Banyana Banyana:  Debut (2007 vs Ghana)

Honours:                   2008 – COSAFA Cup Champions

                                    2010 – Sasol League Champions (Super Falcons)

                                    2011 – Sasol League Champions (Super Falcons)

                                    2012 – Sasol League Champions (Super Falcons)

2012 – AWCON 2nd place

2012 – London Olympics

2016 – Rio Olympics

2016 – AWCON 4th place and named in CAF Best XI Substitutes

2017 – COSAFA Cup Champions

2018 – Cyprus Cup 6th place

2018 – COSAFA Cup Champions

2019 – COSAFA Cup Champions

2019 – UEFA Champions League (Lithuania)

2019 – FIFA Women’s World Cup, France