Banyana Banyana defender Lebogang Ramalepe says the Sasol League has played a major role in her football career which led to an overseas move.
The 29-year-old footballer is currently playing for Dinamo Minsk in Eastern Europe. She joined the side in July 2020.
“I played about 75 games for Banyana Banyana while campaigning in the Sasol League and that should tell you how much of a major role the league has played in my career and of many other players,” said the Limpopo-born star.
“If there was no Sasol League there would be no Lebogang Ramalepe. Back home in Limpopo, I was training with boys and girls so that when I get to the National team I am ready because the level was higher and with the help of the Sasol League I managed to keep in good shape. I have travelled a lot with the national team and I have grown as an individual.”
Ramalepe also revealed that she has been waiting for so many years for an opportunity to move abroad.
“I was sitting at home thinking I am going to spend another season playing in South Africa. Although I had prayed for such a move, I didn’t expect it at that time. But when that call came to say I must go and arrange my visa, I did not think twice. I was overwhelmed because this is something I have been waiting for quite some time,” she adds.
“I was very emotional and I thought to myself – this is finally happening. I can only thank God for that for He knows our tomorrows.”
The former Kanatla Ladies player further said the team welcomed her with a lot of warmth.
“The welcome was great and the good thing was that when I got here it was in the summer. I really enjoyed myself because it was nice and warm, little did I know what was coming in winter. Towards November the weather started turning for the worst and their winters are a punishing -19 degrees Celsius, something I was totally not accustomed to,” Ramalepe recalls.
“It was extremely cold and we had to train indoors. So one had to be strong because this is where I have always wanted to be. I took vitamins to avoid being sick because remember I am from Limpopo, so it was two extreme weather patterns for me. But I managed to pull through and I am still here today. We saw the sunshine again recently, as winter only ended in April.”
Ever since arriving at Dinamo Minsk, she has already won three gold medals – a league title and two domestic cups.
The South African international still remembers vividly the first game she played for the Belarusian side: “I played my first match in August 2020 having signed my first professional contract on 31 July 2020. After seeing me at training, my coach said I was going to play as a defensive midfielder, but I told him I had never played there before. He just looked at me and said I want someone who can neutralize their quick players and I believe you can do it. And guess what? I did it. I was hardly there for three weeks and played a full 90 minutes, and we even won the game.”
The player admits that she found the style of play in the Belarusian Women’s Premier League quite different from what she was accustomed to in the Sasol League and at Banyana Banyana.
“This new environment required a fast learner. You could see that they were not taking chances with what they were doing – they knew what they want to do with the ball or off the ball. They were more professional and more structured. But I am must say being at Banyana for so long helped me catch up and adjust quickly,” she explains.
Ramalepe continued: “To be honest, this is what I have always wanted, so for now my plan is to stay in Europe for a while longer. I still want to explore different countries, I need to grow as a player and as a person and don’t want to be in the comfort zone. But then again, sometimes things don’t go the way you always want them to, so I will wait and see. Right now, I am enjoying every minute and loving the experience.”
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By FARPost Reporter