Thembi Kgatlana, seen here holding off the challenge of Yakare Niakate of Mali, scores for Banyana Banyana. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana forward Thembi Kgatlana has praised La Liga and its African operations for being at the forefront of aiding the SA Football Association (Safa) in developing football talent in the country.

“LaLiga have been true friends of football development and one needs not to look further than their involvement at grassroots and amateur football across the country. As a result of their involvement, some great talents are being churned out from various Safa regions,” said Kgatlana.

The striker was speaking at the KwaMahlobo Grounds in Meadowlands Zone 10 on Boxing Day, where she spent most of the afternoon watching the annual KwaMahlobo Festive Games.

Apart from the KwaMahlobo Games, LaLiga has partnered with various Safa regions to promote grassroots and amateur football. They were involved in the New Year’s Cup in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, as well as in tournaments in Ekhurhuleni, Limpopo and Uthukela region in KwaZulu-Natal.

“With LaLiga aiding most of these tournaments, there has been visible systematic order in these games and I was particularly impressed by the general organisation of the KwaMahlobo Games,” she said.

Kgatlana, who plays professional football in the USA with Houston Dash and runs her own women’s tournament in Motlakeng in the West Rand, said efforts by LaLiga in profiling local football needs to be praised to encourage other corporate companies to join hands in developing football in the country.

The striker starred at the recently ended Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana where she ended the competition as the top goal-scorer with five goals.

She also won three Woman of the Match awards, which earned her the biggest accolade - the Player of the Tournament prize.

The 22-year-old is in the running to win Africa’s Best African Woman Player of the Year at a ceremony to be held in Dakar, Senegal, on January 8 and 9.

African News Agency (ANA)

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