Latsha, who made history earlier this year by becoming the first local 15-a-side rugby player to sign a professional contract when she joined Spanish club SD Eibar Femenino, was the only South African in the group, which features coaches, a board member, referee and club president, among others.
The 26-year-old Latsha has been a pillar of strength in the Springbok Women’s team since making her Test debut on the team’s UK Tour in 2018, and her leadership skills saw her captain the team in 2019 in the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup – which doubled up as the 2021 Rugby World Cup Qualifier – and the incoming Tests against Spain and Scotland in the absence of regular captain Nolusindiso Booi, who was injured last season.
A total of 60 women from 19 countries impressed the judges, but in the end only 12 dynamic women made it onto Rugby Africa’s list of #Unstoppables.
“Congratulations to Babalwa for being named as one of the Rugby Africa Unstoppables,” said SA Rugby CEO and Rugby Africa Secretary General, Jurie Roux.
“To be named among 12 leading women in rugby on the entire African continent is nothing short of remarkable, and given Babalwa’s achievements in the last two years, this recognition is very well deserved.”
Latsha was thrilled about the achievement and said it was a great honour.
“It’s always a privilege to represent my nation and country in rugby, and being named amongst 12 powerful women in the sport is in itself is very empowering – not only to me but also for young women in Africa,” said Latsha.
“Rugby is rapidly growing on the continent and it is wonderful to be part of that. My message other women in rugby is that the sport is a phenomenal vehicle to change one’s life.
“So put in as much effort and work as you can to make your dreams come true, and enjoy your rugby as much as possible.”
Rugby Africa President, Mr Khaled Babbou, was excited to launch their #Unstoppables campaign and said: “We want to do something very impactful and sustainable for all women in rugby on the continent to get players, fans and sponsors interested in the game.
“Our goal is to uplift the ‘Unstoppables’ and the women in rugby beyond this campaign. We have a long-term vision and commitment.
“Africa is a big rugby market as the latest Nielsen report shows, conducted by World Rugby, and one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
“It is such an untapped market in terms of athletic potential, growth opportunities and market penetration – especially for the women. As the individual stories of the campaign show, there are really strong women coming out of Africa.”
Rugby Africa #Unstoppables:
- Abigail Kawonza (Zimbabwe) - Board member, match official coach and referee
- Babalwa Latsha (South Africa) - Springbok Women’s and international player
- Christel Janet Kotze (Namibia) - Coach and TV producer
- Donatienne Rasoampamonjy (Madagascar) - Coach, coach trainer and club founder
- Fatma El-Kindiy (Botswana) - Communications and project manager
- Ella Paule Guei (Côte d'Ivoire) - Referee
- Fatou Camara Sene (Senegal) - Administrator and communications manager
- Rafatu Inusah (Ghana) - Board member and educator
- Peris Mukoko (Kenya) - Board member, educator and match official
- Samiya Ayikoru (Uganda) - International player
- Sanaa Barakat (Egypt) - Player
- Wejdane Limame (Tunisia) - Citing commissioner and club president