Anna Noko Matlou

Footballer

Anna Noko Matlou is probably the least
celebrated sportsperson in South Africa despite
achievements that have catapulted the country into
international recognition.
The 20-year-old Limpopo-born Banyana Banyana
star scooped the title of Woman Player of the Year at
the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awards
held in Nigeria last year. She is the fi rst South African,
man or woman, to win this award. Players such
as Benni McCarthy and Lucas Radebe have been
nominated but haven't come close to equalling the
prolifi c Banyana striker's achievement in a sport that
has traditionally been the preserve of men.
The award to Matlou was a recognition by CAF of
her consistent goal-scoring record for South Africa's
Senior Women's National team in both offi cial and
international friendly matches � she scored 23 goals
in 20 games. She was crowned on the same night as
Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who
was named Player of the Year in the men's category.
It was largely owing to her industry on the fi eld
that Banyana Banyana won their fi rst women's
championship last year. In that tournament alone,
Matlou scored six goals, including a hat trick in the
semifi nal and a goal in the fi nal, to share the
Golden Boot award with Genevova Anonma of
Equatorial Guinea.
At the awards ceremony former South African
Football Association president Molefi Oliphant, who
also chairs CAF's women football subcommittee, was
probably more elated than all the football bigwigs in
Lagos for the event. He said Matlou's achievements
would inspire many women back home to take the
sport seriously.
Sadly, though, women's football in South Africa
continues to be very low-key. The incentives for
the girl child to pursue the sport as an alternative
career option are limited. Banyana Banyana have
an African star in Matlou and are a powerhouse on
the continent, yet sponsorship for women's football
comes only in dribs and drabs. � Phathisani Moyo

Lunch spot: McDonald's