Springbok Women’s No 8 Aseza Hele says captain Babalwa Latsha is like a sister to her. LERATO MKHONDO reports.
Both women played vital roles last year in helping South Africa to qualify for the 2021 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. However, their relationship goes beyond the field.
‘She is like a sister to me,’ says Hele, who won the 2019 Springbok Women’s Achiever award.
‘I first played against Babalwa during sevens matches between Eastern Province and Western Province. People used to rave about what an amazing prop she is and when we played fifteens against each other, I soon understood why.’
The two officially met while with the SA Select Women’s team in 2017 and have since become very close.
‘What I love most about rugby is the unity within the sport,’ says Hele. ‘You are taught that your teammate is your sister and we are family. That is exactly how I feel about Babalwa.
‘Our bond has become so strong that we share almost everything. We motivate each other all the time. We both want the best for people and care a lot about others.’
Hele says Latsha is the kind of person you want to be around, while she, in turn, helps to lift her teammate’s spirits when need be.
‘Babalwa managed to find a balance between her studies and rugby, which inspires me. Being around her motivates me.
’Everyone in our team knows that I always want to see people laugh and happy. Even during training, there are always positive vibes. We crack jokes and keep spirits high.
‘So when Babalwa is down, I make it my responsibility to cheer her up.’
Hele says she loves the way Latsha speaks isiXhosa.
‘Her village home is in Mthatha. People from PE and Mthatha speak isiXhosa differently, and her isiXhosa is quite deep and unique. We normally tease each other about our villages!’