Bok Women's captain Babalwa Latsha wants to bring overseas experience to SA

Earlier in January, Latsha who hails from Khayelitsha in Cape Town joined the Spanish side SD Eibar Femenino as their new prop.

Cristina Guntín, coach of the women's rugby team SD Eibar Femenino, and the club's new signing, Babalwa Latsha. Picture: @BabalwaLatsha/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - A new era for the Springbok Women's captain Babalwa Latsha is on the horizon as she wants to plough the overseas experience back to the community.

Earlier in January, Latsha, who hails from Khayelitsha in Cape Town, joined the Spanish side SD Eibar Femenino as their new prop.

She becomes the first South African female rugby player to showcase her talents in Europe after getting a professional contract.

Speaking exclusively to EWN Sport from the city of Eibar within the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country of Spain, Latsha wants to bring her overseas knowledge back home and help young girls in sport.

"The key thing now - what I'm looking for in achieving - now that I'm playing overseas I'd like to have a strong positive influence on our own South African rugby, to be a positive catalyst of some changes within our systems. I'm looking forward to bringing the knowledge that I will acquire here back home and hopefully growing our rugby, but also have some personal achievement to put in some great performances for my club," said Latsha.

"I want to be a great example and represent my country well so that more and more overseas clubs can start to see South African rugby and pay more attention to South African rugby because there's plenty of talent and potential. And those just need to be seen - if I put up great performances it will attract more attention from professional clubs to South Africa."

The 25-year-old Latsha was scouted during the Springbok Women’s Test against Spain last year.

SD Eibar Femenino new signing Babalwa Latsha and her teammates on her first day at training in Eibar, Basque. Picture: @BabalwaLatsha/Twitter.

SD Eibar Femenino new signing Babalwa Latsha and her teammates on her first day at training in Eibar, Basque. Picture: @BabalwaLatsha/Twitter.

She is part of the Springbok Women team that will compete at the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. She said her new teammates gave her a warm welcome and the atmosphere in the camp is warm.

"I received a warm welcome from the club actually - we have other players coming in, some from New Zealand - the team is growing and everyone is very welcoming and warm towards me," she said.

"The atmosphere in the camp has been good and the girls are excited to have someone from South Africa for the first time in the team, its quite exciting and everyone is welcoming."

Latsha has had to develope powerful leadership skills since taken over the Springbok Women's captaincy in the absence of regular captain Nolusindiso Booi, who is out with an injury.

SD Eibar Femenino players practising lineout. Picture: @BabalwaLatsha/Twitter.

SD Eibar Femenino players practising lineout. Picture: @BabalwaLatsha/Twitter.

She said being the first woman to get a first professional contract abroad meant a lot and would like to see more of young South African women following her footsteps of playing abroad.

"To be the first woman to get pro contract abroad means a lot. It's a great achievement for me personally but looking at the bigger picture it's not about me, it's about the next young girl who wants to take up sport and excel at it," said the prop.

"This is fantastic, it's bigger than myself and bigger than rugby because of its all about inspiring the next generation of Babalwa Latsha - the next generation of Springbok Women. It's important that we don't lose sight and hope of the bigger picture, even though sometimes things just go another way round in what we want to achieve, so the most important things are those who look up to me and other Springbok Women as well.

"All we need as South African women players is a lot of more support in terms of sponsorships and funding and I think that will go a long way with the development of the team going to the World Cup next year."

"I think now it's the time for media houses, companies, stakeholders, etc to support Springbok Women - I want to see support coming from the relevant people, I wish to see Springbok Women getting contracts and becoming fully professional in South Africa first before we go anywhere else. I want to see more support and for us to have gender equity within the system."

Latsha, who is also studying law at the University of the Western Cape, has offered advice to young up and coming girls who still want to be part of the next generation of women in sport, women who are keen on seeing a career in sport at large.

"My advice to young and upcoming girls is that I've realised that wherever I go, women's sport is always at the bottom of the food chain and that can be quite disheartening as a young sportswoman," Latsha said.

"The key thing is to have clear goals and have the courage to work toward those goals, sport is very useful and an important tool that can change your life that can elevate you and steer your life into a positive direction, so the key thing is to keep going no matter how things are tough, work extremely hard so that when opportunity comes it finds you ready. It is for all women to continue being great role models, continue to break barriers, continue to dream big because dreams do come true. Where you are currently and where you come from doesn't necessarily determine what you will and can achieve."