It has been quite a trip for 30-year old Banyana Banyana defender Nothando Vilakazi that has been playing for the national group for over 10 decades, making greater than 100 caps.
Lately she signed her first global contract together with Lithuania side Gintra Universitetas to further her expertise from the match.
Currently based in Lithuania, Vilakazi combined Banyana Banyana at the USA and formed a portion of the group that played with the international friendly game in Santa Clara, California.
Growing up Middleburg, Vilakazi’s passion for soccer started at age 9 when she began playing boys. Although her mother didn’t want her to play with the match, the assistance from her aunt is exactly what motivated her to pursue the game.
“I was able to play with for a boys’ group, and that I travelled a lot together, but my mom wasn’t familiar with this arrangement. The group that I played was possessed by sporting character Walter Mokoena.
“Though I played with boysduring camp Walter’s mum would make a plan for me and also make sure I slept in their home because I had been the only woman in the group,” explained Vilakazi.
The left-footed defender just began playing soccer with women in the time of age 14. She then began competing at the Sasol League when she had been 17, playing with the Highlanders group in Mpumalanga.
Her expertise in playing boys gave her confidence to compete and play much better than many women.
“Coming in the Sasol League and playing girls was an eye-opener for me personally. It’s a nationwide league which helped expose me to various players across the nation and kept me on my feet.
“If it was not for the Sasol League, I do not know where I’d be now. Their participation didn’t merely change the face of women’s soccer in South Africa but my personal life too. For a change, I managed to really make a difference in your home and help my parents,” she added.
Included in the preparations for the world point, Banyana Banyana confronted the USA, that will be the world champions and no 1-ranked state in women’s soccer, in a match that provided the group with some perspective about what to expect when they compete at the World Cup in June.
“The USA friendly has been an important game for us since they’re the world champions. They have one of the top leagues in the world, something we expect to see as girls footballers in South Africa,” explained Vilakazi.
“I believe showcasing our ability and competing on an international platform will surely bring positive change to the game. Hopefully, patrons like Sasol will keep on encouraging and creating a difference in women’s soccer.”
Although linking Gintra Universitetas is just one of her main accomplishments, Vilakazi’s favorite moment in her soccer career was in the 2017 Cosafa Women’s Cup when she attained her 100th cap.
“penalizing 100 caps certainly tops my favorite moments in my football career. It was a fantastic feeling and that I was very emotional because, in the time I realised that anything is possible”