University of Johannesburg student Katlego Mabuza was a force to be reckoned with throughout the Varsity Women’s Football tournament. Now she has turned her attention to next year’s Fifa U20 Women’s World Cup in France. The midfielder made her mark in their semi-final match against University of Cape Town when she drew first blood and followed it up with a second goal, helping ease the team to a 4-0 victory.
This, she said, was her highlight of the tournament after missing the group games against North-West University and University of the Western Cape. In last the final, UJ went down to three-time defending champions Tshwane University of Technology, but Mabuza took some consolation in the fact that she had left everything on the field.
“I missed some of the group matches because of shin splints, but, coming back for the semis and final, I played my best,” she noted. The 19-year-old, who was selected for the U20 national team earlier this season, said the year had been one filled with valuable lessons.
“I’ve played three games for the national squad and learned so much from them,” commented the second-year sports management student. She was part of the national team that defeated both Swaziland and Namibia 5-0, before again defeating Namibia 4-0 last Sunday.
It was a successful introduction to the higher level, but Mabuza said it had also shown her how important it was to remain grounded and patient as a player. She pointed out: “It’s important to stay humble and keep doing what you love, but also to realise that not everything is going to go your way.”
She was introduced to the sport at the age of eight when she started kicking around a ball with the boys at home in Soweto. Two years later she was playing for a local boys’ team, Hungry Foxes, and caused quite a stir.
“There was one game we played, my parents were there watching, and I dribbled past this other boy and he just couldn’t believe what happened. Afterwards my coach told me he didn’t want to play anymore because I embarrassed him,” Mabuza noted.
She continued playing throughout her school years for the Rosina Sedibane Modiba Sport School in Pretoria before making the cut for the university team. The young star said her short-term goal was to help the national team qualify for the World Cup. From there she said the end goal would be to sign a professional contract and hopefully play overseas.