I have been asked to create a piece to celebrate female football star Thembi Kgatlana and her story by Nike. Learning more about her, I have come to love that her determination to be the best is not to surpass others, but to show people what is possible. Her attitude is that her skills and talent are a conduit to put South Africa on the map, and to help create a future for girls to be able to pursue their passions without the obstacles that she has weaved through. Besides accolades in her many achievements, such as winning African Woman’s Footballer of the year in 2018, what moves me about her is how effortlessly she embodies her message ‘Play to shape the future’. Making the work, I dissected the shapes that represents the game through which she strives to be a role model to others, and my goal was to capture her powerful and joyful demeanour through bold colours.
When Thembi was growing up her mother begged her to play netball because “soccer was for boys” but she knew where her passion lay. In a country where there are still places that women are denied football grounds to practice, I can’t imagine how many countless difficult days and decisions she has made on her path. Because of this, I decided to create a video of me making the portrait of her.
Much like her story, it’s not in the final achievement where the message lies, but in all the steps its takes to get there. I think no matter whether you are playing with a ball or needle and thread, we can all harness a little of Thembi’s joy and strength.
Camera Adam Vinokur
Editor Eben Smal (Haezer)
Music Faphappy by Mac Motel