South Africa’s duo of Sinazo Ntshota and Nobahle Mdelwa is off to Spain on Tuesday, 3 October 2023 for an experience of a lifetime.
The pair will be part of a girls’ team comprising players from countries like Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Japan, and Zambia.
The group will be attending LaLiga’s flagship development program, the LaLiga Academy in Madrid, Spain.
Now in its second year, the initiative has undergone significant growth with now about 80 players and has also diversified with athletes from different countries around the world.
Ntshota and Mdelwa are among eight talented players selected from the African continent – two from Nigeria, one from Tanzania, and three from Zambia, and will balance their studies with world-class football education.
Seventeen (17) year-old Ntshota runs out for Hollywoodbets Super League side City Lads Ladies from Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape and has already represented South Africa at all levels (U17 and U20 and the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana).
Her senior national team debut came when she was also part of the squad that won silver at the 2022 Hollywoodbets COSAFA Women’s Championship, under the tutelage of Head Coach Simphiwe Dludlu and her assistant Nthabeleng Modiko. They lost to Zambia in the final.
Speaking to SABC Sport on Sunday (1 October 2023) after her club lost 2-1 to Richmond United at the Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Gqeberha, this is what a shy Ntshota had to say:
“I think I was scouted at a tournament in Malawi last year, and they contacted me. This is a very big step for me, and I am happy for myself. I am scared of being away from home for such a long time, but at the same I am excited.”
Her compatriot, Mdelwa, is a student at Edendale Technical High School and plays in the second tier of South African Women’s Football, the Sasol League, for Dlala Ntombazana FC.
The 17-year-old is from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu Natal and is known for her speed, agility, and coordination.
“Around 20 full-season scholarships were granted to female players who stood out in trials and scouting during international under-17 competitions. These talented athletes will call the complex home until June 2024, pursuing academic studies at an international school while honing their football skills under the expert guidance of our top youth football coaches. LALIGA remains steadfast in its mission to inspire, empower, and positively impact communities across Africa through the captivating sport of football,” said LaLiga in a statement.
“The creation of our female team was made possible thanks to generous funding from LALIGA and EA SPORTS, a part of EA SPORTS’ FC FUTURES initiative, dedicated to promoting community football worldwide. We’re immensely grateful to our partners, the South African Football Association (SAFA), Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA), and Hollywoodbets, for their invaluable contributions to this endeavor.”
- LALIGA has a rich history of nurturing football talent and building strong bonds with communities worldwide. The organization’s global grassroots program LALIGA Academy, which reached more than 200,000 young players and 25,000 coaches trained by 2023, has made a substantial impact on the African continent
- Moreover, Initiatives such as Celta Vigo’s Academy in Evaton and Sebokeng, RCD Espanyol’s Academy in Johannesburg, Real Betis’ Academy in Harare, and the FC Barcelona Academy in Lusaka have been instrumental in nurturing local talent and fostering a love for football among African youth
- In February 2022, LALIGA achieved a milestone with over 640 projects led by 900 LALIGA coaches across nearly 50 countries, benefitting more than 200,000 players. The inaugural LALIGA Camps held in South Africa in 2021 and 2022 saw 300 young boys and girls participating alongside 70 coaches. In 2023, these camps are expected to expand, accommodating over 200 junior footballers
- LaLiga has recently appointed Tresor Penku as the Managing Director for LALIGA Africa and brings a wealth of corporate leadership experience to his role. His career spanning over a decade demonstrates his commitment to fostering positive change through sports and strengthening LALIGA’s presence across the African continent
- LALIGA has a series of exciting initiatives aimed at capturing the hearts of football enthusiasts across Africa. In their ongoing commitment to nurturing grassroots football, they are expanding their LALIGA camps in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) with the introduction of a brand-new camp in Newcastle.
By Matlhomola Morake