This was supposed to be the year Vuyolwethu Maqholo took her skills on the rugby field to the next level with the signing of her first professional contract.
However, luck was not on her side and this time it wasn’t the Covid-19 pandemic that ruined her plans.
Spanish side Eibar had offered her a contract that would have seen her pack her bags and head to Spain earlier this year, but standing in the way of her European dream was the necessary visa.
The 25-year-old Western Province fullback did not have the money to pay for the visa and could not find anyone to help her within the timeframe stipulated by the club.
“It was during the December holidays and that time is usually busy so I could not find people to ask for help in time. I only needed a visa but the time I had to complete the visa process was also limited because by January everything had to be settled in and I would move to a new home”.
Maqholo would have teamed up with her national captain, Babalwa Latsha who got her first professional contract at the same club in January.
Latsha is the first South African women’s 15 player to secure a professional contract, as women’s 15 rugby is still an amateur sport in this country.
In fact, Maqholo and Latsha were supposed to jet out of the country together.
The club had already put up a budget to help her settle into her new environment and was going to cover the cost of the flight but in the end they had to give the deal to a New Zealand player.
“All is not lost though because they were impressed by me and told me should a position be available again, I’m their top target.”
Maqholo suspects she caught the eye of the Spaniards when their national team played a test against the Springboks in September last year. Maqholo was outstanding for the Springboks in that match and helped herself to one of two tries in their 12-29 defeat.
When she is not donning the national colours or that of Western Province, she represents Busy Bees, a side she joined back in 2014 when she moved to Cape Town from Middledrift where she fell in love with the sport.
Before her move to Cape Town she had always wanted to wear the WP colours as she felt the team had the right structure to showcase her talents.
“I started rugby when I saw ladies from my village playing for the local side and I was hooked to the sport. I just knew it was the sport I wanted to play and I joined my home side, Swallows, and since then I have never looked back.
“But Western Province always looked like they had an organised system so I dreamt about joining their ranks.
“When I moved to Cape Town I joined Busy Bees and straight from there got the opportunity in Western Province.”
Maqholo says there is nothing she longs for more than getting back on the rugby field and doing what she does best.
She hopes that when that day comes, she can pick up from where she left off regarding her on field form with the hopes of catching the eye of other teams that may be looking for talent like hers.