Spanish Football League, La Liga has partnered Bayana Bayana forward and reigning Africa Women’s Footballer of the Year, Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana to promote women’s football in South Africa.
As part of the relationship, the 22-year-old striker took time off her busy schedules on Monday to visit her former school AB Phokompe Secondary in Mohlakeng, Randfontein in the West Rand where she donated a number of footballs to the school with the help of her new partners.
The balls will mostly be used to promote women’s football at the school and within the community.
Speaking after the visitation, Kgatlana, who also won the 2018 CAF Goal of the Year award, said she was excited to have partnered with LaLiga to undertake projects aimed at further highlighting the women’s game.
She urged the students to focus on their education so they can have something to fall back on after their football careers.
“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 can focus on what they are doing whether it is sport or education,” she said.
“The truth is, not everyone will become a footballer or sports star, so it 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.
She continued: “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 chose me 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.”
For his part, La Liga delegate in South Africa, Enrique Suay said: “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 Women’s 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.”
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,” he said.
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.
Since their arrival in South Africa, LaLiga has joined forces with various community development games in several of SAFA Regions and the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) considers them one of their trusted partners in football development.