Captaining world cup squad – a dream come through

A product of South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) Vuka development programme, Babalwa Latsha has represented the Western Province and South Africa at both Sevens and 15-a-side formats.

In its 10th year of existence, the Vuka programme prioritises “ongoing support” for rugby development across South Africa.

However, it has not been all rugby for the multi-talented sports star, who was born in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape.

She started out playing football for Khayelitsha-based Goal Hunters FC. She was good at it, too, finding the back of the net with ease, playing striker.

“It was not really difficult for me to get into football in the first place. I am a curious person and that makes it easy for me to try new things,” she said.

That curiosity saw the 25-year-old prop venturing into another previously male-dominated territory, this time rugby.

“I played even more rugby as I got to UWC and, after few games I knew this is the game I wanted to play. I wanted to play for a number of reasons, I wanted to show other girls that they should not limit themselves.

“If they take any sport seriously, then they can go far. I wanted to be that positive influence,” she said.

Latsha then grabbed the rugby ball with both hands and, in no time, she was one of the more established players in her team.

The national selectors were also watching. She quickly climbed the ranks and, in 2017, won South African Rugby’s Women’s Top Achiever award. And, as if that was not enough, she became national caption in 2018, having also served as vice-captain.

“Captaining the world cup-bound national team is of course a dream come true. It comes with lots of responsibilities. I know I am not one of the best players but, having said that, I know talent and hard work go hand in hand. That’s why I keep on working on my talent,” she said.

She said she was now in a position to influence the future of youngsters across the city, in Khayelitsha and other townships.

“I know there are many Babalwas out there, they just need to be found and nurtured.

“I want to be that beacon of hope but, of course, there is a time for everything,” said Latsha, who also captained UWC.

The future is looking even brighter for Latsha as she might find herself plying her trade for English giants, Saracens, if the ongoing negotiations go well.