University of Johannesburg soccer star Thato Letsose was delighted to be recognised as the Sportswoman of the Year at the varsity’s annual awards gala function this month.
The 22-year-old sport psychology student made her debut for the South African women’s team this year and showed strong leadership skills in student soccer.
Born in Bloemfontein, but now living in Auckland Park in Johannesburg, Letsose said the award was an indication that her hard work was paying dividends.
“This award is a big deal for me because it also shows that women’s football is evolving and getting better,” she said.
She added she was motivated by failure, meaning she always tried to learn from any mistakes and worked hard to overcome her weaknesses.
“But I must add that nothing would have been achieved without my team-mates. They were always there for me and that made me a better player and a better leader.”
Letsose led the UJ team to victory in the University Sport South Africa tournament in Port Elizabeth in July and was also in charge of the Ussa squad which took the gold medal in the Confederation of University and College Sports Association Games in Gaberone, Botswana, in June.
As with many of South Africa’s soccer stars, Letsose learnt about the game playing football in the streets of her community.
“For me, though, it’s not always about winning. It’s about learning to give your best and encouraging your teammates to do the same.”
Letsose said her game had developed rapidly in her three years at UJ.
“Besides helping my overall game, it has improved my leadership, making me into a better captain.”
The UJ skipper acknowledged the contributions made by her coach, Jabulile Baloyi, and vice-captain Potso Aphane.
“Jabu has played a major role in turning me into the player I am today and my vice-captain did a very capable job of holding the fort when I was not available.”