Hard work pays off for star cricketer

South African and Western Province wicketkeeper Sinalo Jafta says wearing the national team jersey is not something she takes lightly, because of the sacrifices that go with it.

Proteas and Western Province wicket-keeper Sinalo Jafta has come a long way since making her Women’s One Day International (WODI) debut for South Africa against New Zealand in Paarl, four years ago.

She grabbed that opportunity with both hands and ran with it, going on to earn more caps for her country.

Her last international match was against Pakistan in May last year.

She is also part of the T20 international setup and her last match was against India away, in October. That was just before the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown put everything on hold.

Jafta, 25, took time to share her experiences of playing for the national team and how that helped her grow as a player and a sportswoman.

She also had some words of advice as to how to deal with the pressures that come with international competition.

“Every time I put on anything with the badge, I get goosebumps. It’s not something I take lightly. It’s for my family’s sacrifices.

“My debut game was testament to it and I remember being so nervous the morning before warm-ups and actually vomiting. And while singing the National Anthem it dawned on me that it has finally paid off. But it was only the beginning of the journey,” she said.

She said things were not easy at the beginning and self-confidence was one of the challenges she had to work on.

“But looking back, it shaped me into the person I am. I lacked maturity back then but, four years on, my game has matured,” she said.

She said her proudest moments are when she sees smiles on her mother’s and brothers’ faces every time she gets selected.

“That never gets old. Again singing the National Anthem and representing all the women cricketers out there.”

Born in East London, and raised by a single mother, Lumka, Jafta says she’s not really from a sporting family.

“My aunt and mom did athletics and played netball. I started playing cricket when I was 13 years old (at Stirling High School).

“It was only because a teacher in Grade 6 said girls cannot play and I wanted to prove him wrong. So I looked for a high school that had girls’ cricket,” she said.

The Kuils River resident is in her second year with WP. She says she’s learning a lot from coach Claire Terblanche.

“Her knowledge of the game has made me understand my personal game even better. I also played for North West Dragons and I just want to thank coach Francios van der Merwe for always believing in me.

“I would say being around different people and learning from each and every day, is one of the coolest things about cricket.”

The multi-talented Jafta is also a competitive hockey player. In fact, she has national hockey colours, to prove her credentials too.

“I started up thinking I would represent my country in hockey because cricket was never part of the plan.

“Representing my country in hockey taught me the importance of teamwork and that’s why I’m so big on doing things for the common successes of the team.

“If you put the team first you consistently win small goals. Border and North West University hockey taught me the fundamentals of ‘teamwork makes the dream work’,” she said.

Her message to youngsters out there, especially young girls, is simple: “Complacency is the catylyst of all failures. Keep focusing on being better every day”.

To commemorate Women’s Month, feel free to share your stories of remarkable women in sport. Email fuad.esack@inl.co.za