Babalwa Latsha, 24, is truly representative of the ongoing commitment and hard work of the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA). Not only is she a success story of SARLA’s development programme, VUKA, but as a woman, she is both a role model and symbol of hope for young women wishing to succeed in the sport nationwide.
Babalwa recently captained the Springbok Women’s team against Spain on Saturday, 17th November 2018, as part of the European Tour. It’s the first time since 2014 that the team have donned their green-and-golds and travelled for a test match.
The past few years have seen much of Europe; Wales, Italy, Spain and New Zealand set considerably demanding standards and high expectations on the development of women’s rugby internationally and thus the event proved a significant measure of assessment with regards to where our players stand in women’s rugby internationally.
Vuka Rugby is fully supported and endorsed by SA Rugby and forms part of their national development objectives, and involves a range of age groups for both boys and girls from U/15 through to U/19. This means that youth of all ages get the positive benefit of attending regular sport coaching sessions, learning how to foster a healthy body and mind.
Babalwa, one of VUKA’s rising stars, is from Cape Town’s largest township, Khayelitsha, known for its impoverished communities and challenging conditions. In 2014 VUKA extended the programme to girls teams resulting in Babalwa being one of the very first two players who participated during her high school years at Heathfield High to receive national rugby honors at the highest level.
Considered a symbol of the accelerated development of rugby in South Africa, Babalwa is currently studying law at the University of the Western Cape and has to date achieved several awards and accolades, which include playing provincial rugby for the Western Cape from 2015, named their 2016 Player of the Year and SA Rugby’s Women’s Top Achiever Award in 2017. The recent match against Spain heralds her very first Springbok Test cap.
When interviewed, Babalwa said “I have been passionate about rugby since the very first day I started playing and am committed to giving my best to my team and coach” adding “The VUKA programme provided me with an incredible foundation to build my skill, not just on the field but off the field too and I am truly grateful. The programme opened academic doors for me, it was a great challenge coming from Khayelitsha but today I am able to fulfil my dreams.”
Cell C has been a strong supporter of SARLA and the biggest sponsor of the VUKA programmes. “The dedication and the resulting success that Babalwa has accomplished is testament to what can be achieved through strong sponsorships of rugby development.
South African sport has the power to generate nation building and as a truly South African brand, Cell C wants to play its part in bringing the nation together. That is why we support the fantastic initiative, VUKA, which remains a strong development platform for rugby in SA,” said Cell C Chief Commercial Officer, Junaid Munshi.
Babalwa shares how much she loves representing South Africa, how it is an honor for her to be able to inspire the hopes and dreams of young girls in the country, who too dream of playing professional rugby. She gives back to her community regularly, coaching at primary schools and assisting with talent spotting.
Stefan Terblanche, SARLA CEO, added “We are so proud of Babalwa and all of her achievements, she’s an inspiration to all of us and we will continue to support the development of women’s rugby across our country.”
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