Noko Matlou

Footballer

accuracy and a killer boot, nothing stops Matlou from getting the football in the net, almost every time. The star striker of Banyana Banyana, 25-year-old Matlou has scored 43 goals in 56 international games for the South African women's soccer squad. With too many hat tricks to count, her attacking game and ferocious talent help to seal the national team's triumphs, which include qualifying for the 2011 All African Games and, with any luck, the 2012 Olympics. Naturally athletic, Matlou started playing soccer at primary school in Limpopo and, beyond her studies, has lived and breathed the beautiful game ever since. She's been playing for her provincial team, the Brazilian Ladies Football Club, since 2002 and for her country since 2007. At the 2008 Cosafa Cup, her hat-trick in the final led the national team to victory and her tally of 14 goals in the tournament's five matches earned her the coveted Golden Boot Award. In 2010, as a tribute to her talent and consistent goal-scoring performance, Matlou became the first South African football player, male or female, to be honoured with the African Football Confederation's African Player of the Year. Currently completing her studies in transportation management at the University of Johannesburg, Matlou has to fend off offers to play overseas until she has her degree in hand. Right now she is passionately focused on representing her country. She hopes that women's soccer in South Africa will be taken more seriously will be better supported through the creation of a professional league. In this way, stars like Matlou will be able to pursue soccer as a fully fledged career, just like their male counterparts. Perhaps then they will receive the recognition, kudos and applause they truly deserve. � Lu Larche

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