Yolanda Nduli’s face lights up in response to the question of what it would mean for her to go to the World Cup, and for a brief moment the 15-year-old drops her shy demeanour to show her bubbly side.
The teenager from KwaMashu isn’t necessarily shy, she speaks passionately and animatedly, but because of her young age she isn’t used to doing interviews, which makes her come across as shy.
She will get the hang of it with time because of her talent, and her being a part of the Under-17 women’s national team that’s on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup.
Bantwana take on Morocco this afternoon (Saturday ) (4.00pm SA time) in Sale in the second leg of the last round of qualifiers, sitting comfortable with a 5-1 lead from the first leg.
“Going to the World Cup would mean everything to me because I want to know how to speak almost every language,” Nduli said.
“I know that football is my getaway to that because it will help me travel the world and I will get to experience different cultures and different languages.
"I want to speak French and Spanish. I love French. It sounds so nice.”
Nduli and her teammates have probably started learning Spanish as a good result in Morocco will see them book a ticket to Uruguay, a Spanish speaking country, for the World Cup that will be played from November 13 - December 1.
That’s not the only Spanish speaking country Nduli and her teammates are likely go to - Safa president Danny Jordaan promised Bantwana a trip to Spain should they qualify for the global showpiece.
Giving her all in a foreign place – whether it’s Morocco, Spain, Uruguay or Mbombela – will be nothing new to Nduli.
The 15-year-old impressed in Mbombela with KwaZulu-Natal champions Sunflower FC in the Sasol League National Championships. Sunflower might have failed to claim the title but they impressed the local crowd and Nduli was named Young Diski Queen of the Tournament.
“We didn’t think that they would love us, as outsiders,” Nduli said.
“We thought that they would hate us because we play well and we aren’t from there. We were happy that they showed us love.
“But at the end we were sad because Cape Town Roses beat us (in the fight for a place in the semifinals). But we are going to come back.
“We are going to show them. Sunflower is working hard now. We are going to come back and do greater things. Cape Town Roses must be ready because we are going to fight.”
Bantwana will need to fight in Morocco to protect their lead and return with a ticket to Uruguay. The Moroccans celebrated their away goal like they had tied the clash, confident that they can turn it around in Sale.
Bantwana’s defence, marshalled by Nduli, will need to be alert. The Grade 9 pupil from Nhlakanipho High School is unlikely to drop the ball.
Football has been her escape since the death of her father six years ago. Her coaches have played the father figure in her life, starting with her first coach who was also her neighbours – Thabang Ngubane.
“I always woke up early in the morning and played with a plastic bottle or anything that I could kick,” Nduli said.
“I asked coach Thabang Ngubane if I could play football for his team. He kept saying that he would use me the following day until I stopped coming. That’s when he invited me back and I started playing with his team.
“It was nice but very hard because they were kicking me. I got used to it and now I am here.”