At the age of 23, sports and recreation management student Precious Dlhamini already has a lot to be proud of. Besides being the vice-captain of the NWU's women's football team in Vanderbijlpark, she was also recently crowned as Sedibeng’s Sportswoman of the Year.
Precious describes being promoted from stream B to A in the University Sports South Africa (USSA) among her biggest soccer career achievements. (USSA is the controlling body of all sports played at tertiary institutions in South Africa.)
Precious also plays for one of South Africa's prominent clubs, Bloemfontein Celtic, as a striker and a winger.
Born and raised in Sharpeville, Precious played street soccer with boys at the age of nine.
This taught her valuable skills and boosted her confidence. “I played different games, from small-sided games to proper matches where we’d even bet money to compete. I was so confident in my skills that I used to be the only girl in the field,” she recalls.
At the age of 13, her skills caught the attention of Nale Football Academy in her neighbourhood. It was while playing there that she built the foundations of her budding career and made a name for herself.
She quickly graduated through the higher-level teams until she joined Bloemfontein Celtic. She worked her way into being one of the top scorers in the club.
The desire and dedication Precious displayed during her early days playing on the streets have remained constant throughout her career.
Practice makes perfect
“I practise every Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 12:00. On weekends, we either play on Saturdays or Sundays,” says Precious, whose inspiration is Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo.
She adds that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected her training sessions and fitness. “My biggest struggle is that our league has stopped because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is very difficult to keep in shape when not training,” she says.
Off the field, the third-year student spends her time studying.
She advises aspiring female football players of her generation not to neglect education. “Whatever you do, get your education. Sports can’t take everyone through life. It is always important to have a backup plan for your future,” says Precious.
She adds that education opens up new opportunities and empowers athletes to make informed decisions about themselves and their place in the world.
Her dream is to play overseas and start her own soccer agency.