Q&A with Noluthando Vilakazi
A few weeks ago. Moroka Swallows Ladies star Noluthando Vilakazi was included in the South African Under-20 Women's team to tour Germany, but little did she know that she was also just one step away from playing for the senior national women's team, 'Banyana Banyana'.
The 'Birds' star played so well during the German tour that she convinced 'Banyana' coach Augustine Makalakane to include her in his squad to play against Ghana in an Olympic qualifier this weekend.
morokaswallows.co.za's Khaya Ndubane spent time with the young 'Birds' star to find out more about her sudden rise into the 'Banyana' ranks...
Khaya Ndubane (KN): Hi Noluthando; first up, please can you give us a bit of background about yourself and your footballing career.
Noluthando Vilakazi (NV): "I was born and raised in Middelburg in Mpumalanga, where I started playing soccer when I was about nine years old. I used to watch young boys play tennis ball in the street and I would join in and play. My uncles, that is my mother's brothers, realised that I had talent and they encouraged me to play more and I have not looked back ever since."
KN: What about your parents?
NV: "At first, they could not believe that I was actually playing soccer and they decided to come and watch me play. They were also impressed by the way I played and they also encouraged me to continue playing it. They were also supportive when I decided to come to Johannesburg in 2006 to join the High Performance Centre."
KN: Tell us more about your move to Swallows...
NV: "It was during my stay at the High Performance Centre that I managed to catch the eyes of the Swallows scouts and they invited me to play for them and I agreed. I joined them earlier this year."
KN: How has your stay been at the 'Beautiful Birds' so far?
NV: "I'm enjoying myself at Swallows so much so that I have even forgotten that I was supporting one of their Soweto rival teams when I joined them! I now feel like a member of this Swallows family."
KN: Which Soweto rival team?
NV: "I'd rather not say, but like I said I'm a Swallows player now and I love Swallows."
KN: Let's leave it there then and talk about your instant rise to the top. Your 'Banyana' call-up...
NV: "I was surprised when I received the call to say that I was included in the 'Banyana Banyana' squad. I mean, I had just been called up to the Under-20 squad and I suddenly found myself having to play alongside players like Veronica Phewa. I feel very happy. You know, my last conversation with my mother before she died during my German tour, was about my dream of playing for 'Banyana'. She said to me, 'You will make it my girl as long as you believe'. Little did she know that I would make it this soon. I will dedicate my first match for 'Banyana' to her."
KN: I'm sorry to hear that...
NV: "It's okay, I have to talk about them (her father also passed away last year), so that I can feel better. It was not easy at first because I wanted them to see me playing for the national team, but I know they are proud of me wherever they are. Going back to the 'Banyana' issue, yes the call-up surprised me, but I'm ready for the challenge ahead. I'm ready to grab the opportunity that I'm presented with."
KN: Thanks, Sisi and good luck on your 'Banyana' venture.
NV: "Thank you, but before I go want to say thanks to Moroka Football FC for giving me the opportunity to showcase my skills. To my coach and the technical team, my players and everyone who supports me, thank you very much for being there [for me]."