Babalwa Latsha Advises: Mental Fortitude, Clear Goals, The Right Team Are Key To Elevating

Pioneer, Thought Leader and of course Springbok Women Captain, Babalwa has grown beyond the playing field in 2023. She has expanded from a being personal brand to sharing her earned pearls of wisdom, giving advice on what steps to take to elevate in 2024. All photos: Supplied

Springbok women captain Babalwa Latsha saw her career elevated to greater heights in 2023, from joining Allianz Premiership club Harlequins Women in February 2023 coming from DHL Western Province to earning a place as a panellist in important conversations as the Rugby fraternity seeks to grow and advance the women’s game. 

The Babalwa Latsha brand is one to watch for 2024.

Latsha was an asset for the south-west London club, so much so, she received a contract renewal for another season. At the same time she got to share her amazing and inspirational story with the world.

Forever leading from the front, Latsha also captained the Bok Women in the WXV Tournament in its inaugural year. 

“It’s safe to say that I’ve had a really good year, great positivity, growth, and expansion from a personal branding perspective and also as a Rugby player.”

Springbok Women Captain, Babalwa Latsha

Watching from the side-lines it was encouraging to watch was seeing Latsha self-actualise, her voice has gone beyond the playing field. The first African women’s player to sign a professional rugby contract was invited as guest speaker in a few notable events, one that stands out is the celebration of the Women’s Rugby World Cup coming to England to be played across the country, when this eminent South African graced the panel. 

“It was incredible for me to be able to share a bit of South African women’s Rugby and about a bit about myself and my Rugby journey. Having the conversation about the Women’s game with panellists such as such as English rugby veteran Sarah Hunter. It’s really exciting considering the prospect of competing at a World Cup in 2025. It’s a plus for me that it’s in England because I’m much more acclimatised because I play there for the whole year. So it really was a great and incredible celebration of women’s Rugby.”

Sport stars come and go, some are more impactful and influential than others. Some are part of the team, great in the sport they play, but they could never really take up a leadership role within the team. Some players will achieve caps and represent their country in major tournaments and others will do that and become global stars. Babalwa has proven that she’s a natural born leader, cut from a special cloth. The number of doors she’s broken to make her dreams a reality from a non-existent foundation make her a national treasurer we’ll remember for years to come. 

We saw when she was announced as a Laureus Sport for Good Foundation ambassador in 2021 that’s she’s a trailblazer that will fly the South African flag and be a good ambassador not only for the country but for SA Women as well. She’s reflects on the emotions as she graces big stages as the thought leader she has become. 

“It’s a sense, of pride and recognition globally, by quite important people like Sir Bill Beaumont, the President of World Rugby, and Senators and Mayors of different towns in England. It’s really a sense of pride because I get to share a part of me and a part of my heart and a part of my passions, which is of course South African women’s Rugby in particular. 

“I feel that I’m the ambassador of the women’s game, of the women’s game in South Africa, which makes me an ambassador of the stories of women in sport in South Africa. It’s really important for me to be able to articulate those really well, to give a better understanding of how resilient we really are and how driven and how disciplined and incredibly hardworking we are, as South African women in sports.”

The Khayelitsha-born athlete comes from a quintessential South African background, she hails from an impoverished township with little to no resources. That means role-models are a scarcity in such communities, but Latsha has proven that truly, nothing is impossible. 

“You know some of the lessons that I’ve learned, beyond the Rugby field is one, to be resilient.  Secondly, to embrace my flaws, to embrace myself fully as I am. The third is to own my narrative and to own my story. I walk in my truth every single day. I live my life, honestly every single day, and that is my truth. I’ve learned to own that and to internalise it and live it.  And lastly, I’ve also learned to love myself a lot more, to be honest, because I’ve had to be resilient because I’ve had to learn to embrace who I am and all that comes with it. 

“Those lessons have helped me to grow beyond the Rugby field, because once I understood all of those things, I then built or developed the confidence as well to say, I am here. I am a force to be reckoned with. This is my story and this is how I’m making a difference.” 

It is evident that Latsha’s year was not just stellar on the pitch only, but selfless in her nature, like any good leader, the Bok Women skipper is also working with foundations to make and inspire change for those in need.

“I represent and work for foundations like the Menstruation Foundation, which I’m one of the Directors. It has been doing incredibly well, this year, we’ve installed 124 machines, free central pad vending machines, completely free, which I was sponsored to schools across the country, and in Southern Africa as well. 

“The work that these foundations I’m ambassador of, that offer Scholarships to young people have been doing incredibly well. And the Laureus Foundation, has also made a really, really incredible impact globally. So it’s been a great year on the pitch, but also a great year off the pitch.”

As we look ahead to the New Year, a lot of us can take lessons from Babalwa, in order to elevate in our own spaces. 

“I think the one piece of advice that I would give women looking to elevate in the next year is: set goals, clear and concise goals. You need to have the courage to go after them relentlessly. Seek to have good people around you that can help you to achieve those goals. It’s never easy. It’s not meant to be, so mental fortitude with clear goals and the right team of people around you. You know who you are and to shine a beautiful light for others to see and be inspired by. I think that is the best advice I can give.”

As we take from the 2023 age in Babalwa’s book to emulate what she has done with so much courage and grace, we sincerely hope that her star rises even more in 2024. 

Photo Caption: Pioneer, Thought Leader and of course Springbok Women Captain, Babalwa has grown beyond the playing field in 2023. She has expanded from a being personal brand to sharing her earned pearls of wisdom, giving advice on what steps to take to elevate in 2024. All photos: Supplied

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