#TuksFootball: "After we won our first game, it was insisted that I stay on as the goalkeeper," says Asa Rabalao

Posted on June 16, 2023

Years ago, kids regularly kicked around a plastic bottle. It might have looked like they were only fooling around. But they were not. There was always a football game that needed to be won. One seven-year-old girl's skills caught the attention of a teacher.

Asa Rabalao of TuksFootball Women is one of the new goalkeepers in the Banyana Banyana FIFA Women’s World Cup preparation squad camp.

"Athletics used to be my thing when I lived with my grandmother in Limpopo. I was a middle-distance runner. I might not have been the best. Still, I regularly finished in the top three in 400- and 800-meter races.

"In my free time, I joined a group of friends, mostly boys, kicking around a plastic bottle and playing football. There was only one ball, and that was used when our school's team officially played a game or trained. So we resorted to kicking bottles. Due to the teacher's encouragement, I became formally part of the boys’ team."

When it was realized that Rabaloa had real talent, she moved to Alexandra to stay with her parents, as they felt she would have more opportunities to hone her playing skills. She joined the Blue Birds Football Club in 2008.

"I used to be a midfielder, but when the club started a women's football team, no one wanted to play as a goalkeeper. So I decided to don the gloves. After we won our first game, it was insisted that I stay on as the keeper."

Rabaloa credits the management of Mamelodi Sundowns as the ones who saved her football career.

"Due to ongoing injury woes, I seriously considered quitting the game. But then Mamelodi Sundowns made me an offer. I was told to come and play. They would sort out all of the rest, and they did. For that, I will be forever grateful.

"Being an understudy for the likes of Andile Dlamini was the best thing that could have happened. I consider her to be one of Africa's best female goalkeepers. She has taught me most of the tricks of the trade of what it takes to keep the ball out of the net."

Judging by the TuksFootball Women's performance in the current Hollywoodbets Super League season, Rabalao has taken the lessons to heart. The team has won their last six games, scored 23 goals, and conceded only three.

"Our statistics could have been even better. Two of the goals that were scored against us were own goals," explained the Tuks captain.

As to her role as captain and goalkeeper, she said, "I am not a captain who considers her words to be final. I value each teammate's input. I also need to genuinely understand what makes them tick. It is a must for me if I want the team to gel as a unit.

"Regarding goalkeeping, I am probably the loudest voice on the field. It can't be helped. As a goalkeeper, I am best positioned to see how the game plays out. So my role is to organize our defensive structures at all times."

If Rabalao can have one thing come true, all girls should believe in themselves.

"They should focus on improving their skills. It boils down to hard work and discipline, but from personal experience, I know nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it."

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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