Sunday World (South Africa)

Banyana star Kgatlana’s book a guide for girls

‘Children also need role models’

- By Boitumelo Kgobotlo boitumelo@sundayworl­

Banyana Banyana striker and football’s multi-award winner Thembi Kgatlana is on yet another journey to help the girl child break through life’s challenges and barriers to reach their dreams.

The passionate author is now working on her somophore book, titled Girls Don’t D0 That, aimed at motivating young girls not to give up on their vision. She says her upcoming project came about because “heartbreak­ing words are nothing but obstacles to possibilit­ies”.

Kgatlana, 26, describes the yet-to-be-released children’s book as a celebratio­n of her braveness and curiousity as a bold eight-year-old after she was frequently told football was a boys’ sport and “girls don’t do that”, aptly the title of her book.

“But today, this girl, who has challenged the status quo and redefined this narrative still plays football despite societal norms telling her otherwise. We cannot avoid the fact that children need role models to achieve. So, this book gives readers the ability to introspect, to see the power and the strength they possess to become successful,” says Kgatlana.

She believes Girls Don’t Do That is a special book compared to the first project titled Strike A Rock: The Thembi Kgatlana Story. Similarly, the book follows her journey and the challenges she faced in her football career – only this time, she is writing for the children.

“We cannot avoid the fact that children also need role models to achieve what they would like to achieve. So, this book gives the readers the ability to see themselves and the power and the strength they possess. I write because I want to encourage and influence a girl child to chase their dreams, and to show them that it is possible to live for those dreams,” says the footie.

Pikinini, as she is affectiona­tly known in football circles, says there is still a lot of work to be done on the book as they plan to release it in vernacular languages, so it would reach every child in their mother tongue.

“My wish is for the readers to realise that anything is possible. No matter how long it takes. If you work hard, consistent­ly, and smart, you stand a good chance of being sucesssful. I write because I have something to tell. Surely writing will be part of my life for as long as I have a story to tell,” says Kgatlana.

Strike A Rock: The Thembi Kgatlana Story details the pains, cruelty, and hardships of being an aspirant soccer star growing in the small township of Mohlakeng in Randfontei­n, west of Joburg. A story of victory against all odds, a motivation on how hard work and an undefeatab­le spirit would open doors to the visions and dreams one always had.

Kgatlana went from playing football in informal township streets to the University of Western Cape, the South African national team Banyana Banyana and now Racing Louisevill­e, a National Women’s Soccer League club based in Kentucky, in the US.

Her honours include 2017 Player of the Tournament for Cosafa Women’s Championsh­ip, CAF Africa Women Cup of the Nations Top Scorer 2018 and CAF Women Cup of the Nations Best player in the same year, among others.

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Thembi Kgatlana

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