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SA Pair On Week In Spain

JVW’s Jessica Wade and Kaizer Chiefs’ Mduduzi Shabalala returned to South Africa this week following an inspiring stay in Spain last week.

The trip where they were hosted by La Liga is their prize for the pair’s outstanding performances at the COSAFA U17 Youth Championships in both the girls and boys categories, in 2020 in Gqeberha when they represented South Africa.

The duo got to train with Villarreal‘s women and men’s second teams and watched the UEFA Champions League semi-final between Villarreal and Liverpool among other things on their trip – 19-year-old Wade shared her experiencewith iDiski Times . 

“It has been a really nice experience, I got to train with the second Villarreal ladies’ team and we had fantastic training facilities,” said Wade.

“The girls were super friendly and nice, the coaches were really nice and welcoming. Obviously, the cherry on top was getting to watch the Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night.

“I think every time you travel and train with clubs in Europe you can just take what they give you like listen to the advice their coaches are willing to give you and whatever you can.

“I have met a few girls that have played in professional leagues all over the world. I have just tried to kind of gauge from them where I’m at and get experience where I can.”

Wade says featuring in the U17 and U20 teams is a big platform for youth development and exposure. 2022 is a big year in women’s football with the African Women Cup of Nations which also serves as next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier (AWCON) being hosted in Morocco in July.

With her experience gained in junior national teams Wade admits she would love to be picked for the senior team, however, she knows that decision is not in her hands. 

“I’d absolutely love to get into Banyana and that’s what obviously I’m working towards all the time but I have no control over the coach’s pick. So I’m going to continue to work as hard as I can and hope that one day she wants to give me a chance to prove myself.”

Shabalala also shared his sentiments about the invaluable lessons learned in Spain and he hopes he has made a good impression.

“I trained with their [Villarreal’s] second team. It was good, I performed well and they loved me. I hope they will give me a chance one day. It was also so good to see people we usually see on TV,” Shabalala told iDiski Times. 

The soon-to-be 18-year-old has also done well for Kaizer Chiefs DStv Diski Challenge side scoring 13 goals this campaign. Some Chiefs fans believe Shabalala is ready for the first team while he thinks that’s up to the coaches.

“I have 13 goals in the Diski Challenge and to be honest things haven’t gone well this season, we can only hope to do better in the coming season,” he added.

“I might think I’m ready [for the first team] but the coaches might have a different opinion. But if I’m given a chance I will play and prove myself.”

The pair are expected to land at on home soil on Tuesday.  

Story: Lethabo Kganyago.

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Lethabo Kganyago
Lethabo Kganyago
Lethabo Kganyago is currently working as a web and newspaper writer for iDiski Times. This award-winning sports journalist covers the Limpopo area and also specialises in coverage of women's football, including Banayana Banyana.