City Lads players hope to make Banyana grade

Thulani Gqirana

A YOUNG woman from Kwazakhele in Port Elizabeth still cannot believe she will be in the 24-strong Banyana Banyana provisional squad at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria today.

City Lads player Nwabisa Kolisi only heard three days ago she would be joining teammate Andisiwe Ndesi, who was also selected for the national team.

The 20-year-old said she was called up to the under-19 squad last year, where she “gave it her best”, hoping to be called again this year. “When I was there last year, I gave it everything I had and I guess it paid off.”

The petite player said that more than anything, soccer had been her salvation.

“I love the game. I cannot really put into words the relationship I have with soccer. It keeps me busy, and also teaches me to continuously strive to be better than the day before.”

The former Mzontsundu High School pupil, who joined City Lads in 2009, hopes to impress the national selectors so much that they keep calling. “I want to make history. It’s not enough for me to just play the game, I hope to make a difference.”

Kolisi believes that playing for the New Brighton team has not only prepared her for anything, it has also exposed her to chances she might not have had otherwise. “I can’t explain it but things really seem to happen fast for Lads players. Exposure to the more experienced players who have also been called up to the national team is great motivation.

“We are presented with opportunities to go far and it’s up to the individual to take them. And I am grabbing this opportunity with both hands.”

Kolisi said she would not have got this far without the support of her grandmother, Phatiwe, 68, with whom she lives.

“She’s my pillar. She actually loves the game and supports the fact that this is what I want to do with my life. I guess she also appreciates the fact that I’m not out in the streets. She knows that if I’m not home I’m at soccer practice.”

The 28-year-old Ndesi said having a teammate also selected to the squad was the “icing on the cake”.

“It’s great. We have a chance to show them what the Eastern Cape has to offer.”

Ndesi could not wait to leave today. “When I was called up last year, I didn’t make the team. I was told to work on my fitness levels and lose a bit of weight, and have done all that. This is my time.”

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