By Edward Tsumele
This is one of those stories of inspiration that connect easily with people, and this is the mind empowering story of Thembi Kgatlana, the Mohlakeng girl, who went on to become the continent’s best footballer and a global superstar. She tells her powerful story through this new book.
This is the story about Thembi’s extra-ordinary life of rising from the humble beginnings of a mining town just outside Johannesburg to a top athlete on the African continent. Mohlakeng is generally an impoverished township that still fights for a new identity and purpose beyond the life of being a mining town in democratic South Africa, and this makes the story of Thembi, and her success, a compelling reading experience. You do not have to come from Mohlakeng or South Africa for that matter, to identify with struggles of people from small time, making this book to be a universally appealing book.
In this book, the author Nikolaos Kirkinis, chronicles Thembi’s life and times through the prism of culture, identity, family and addiction. This is a soaring tale about hope, about defeating the odds, defying stereotypes and achieving the impossible. The trials and victories of Banyana Banyana are told here too: they are the women who will carry South African football into the future. If you read one biography this year, let it be this one.
Thembi Kgatlana donned the country’s colours for the 2016 Summer Olympics, and was the leading goal scorer. She bagged Player of the Tournament at the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations. In 2019 she brought South African soccer fans to their feet when she netted the country’s first-ever goal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She has lived in America, playing for Houston Dash, in China, where she played for the Beijing BG Phoenix, in Portugal, with the SL Benfica and in Spain with the SD Eibar.
When Thembi was 21 she set up the Thembi Kgatlana Foundation in Mohlakeng investing in girls’ soccer. Thembi has just signed a two-year deal with Atletico Madrid.