In her Q&A, Banyana Banyana defender, Noko Matlou, talks about playing for Eibar in Spain and being a role model for girls: “It’s something I take very seriously. I want them to understand the journey, experience the up and downs, but forever encourage them to strive to fulfil their ambitions.”
What attributes are required for your position?
Tactical discipline, great reading of the game and the opponent’s movements and patterns, a lot of communication and focus, but most importantly a cool head under pressure.
Which parts of your game have improved the most this year?
I have been exposed to a high level of competition in Spain and gained much needed experience. I can now read the game better and I’m much stronger in one-on-one situations.
Tell us about playing for Eibar in Spain?
Being so far from home in a foreign country, I needed to become mentally tougher. That has helped me to deal with different challenges on and off the pitch. I’m now a much better person, focussed and always looking for opportunities to challenge myself.
You are active on social media – what type of content of you like to share?
My journey will inspire a lot of girls in South Africa and social media gives me the platforms to tell my story – how I want, when I want, and with facts.
Is it important to be a positive role models for girls?
It’s something I take very seriously. I want them to understand the journey, experience the up and downs, but forever encourage them to strive to fulfil their ambitions.
Your advice to girls chasing their dreams?
Never give up on your dreams; be determined and consistent in your efforts.
What keeps you hungry for success?
I compete against myself. I want to be better than I was yesterday.
What attracted you to partner with PUMA?
A big brand that always puts the athlete first.
What boots do you play in?
PUMA Ultra because they are very comfortable and light.
PUMA Mayze as they are very fashionable.
Your career highlights?
Becoming the first South African to win the African Women Footballer of the Year award. That was special.
Can you share the secrets to the Afcon win?
The planning and preparations for that tournament were spot on. Everyone understood how tough the tournament was going to be, so we worked hard and smart every day until we put our hands on that trophy.
There is a World Cup later this year. How do you stay focused on the now when that bright star is dangling in the near future?
Every day is an opportunity to improve, to fine tune details, and work on myself. To stay focused and in good physical shape. This is the World Cup, the biggest global football stage, and it will be an honour to represent South Africa.