BANYANA Banyana striker Ode Fulutudilu has expressed her excitement of playing football in Spain.
The 29-year-old from DR Congo but now a naturalised South African citizen, had the honour of being the first woman from Mzansi to sign for top-flight club in Spain when she joined Malaga early in January this year.
Fulutudilu came to South Africa while still an infant of three years, after her family was forced to leave war-riddled DR Congo for neighbouring Angola.
But her family found that safety in Angola was also not guaranteed before they found shelter further south in Cape Town where she was naturalised.
Fulutudilu, who is marriedjoined the Spanish Women’s League from Oulu Nice in Finland where she made a name for herself, netting 15 goals in 23 matches last season.
“Moving to Spain was awesome,” she recalls.
“It happened very quickly. It became much bigger than what I expected in terms of the attention that it drew.
“The people are fantastic and the professional environment is amazing. The Spanish people really support women’s football and that makes it so special for me to play there.”
Before making a move to Finland, Fulutudilu was playing in the Sasol League for Cape Town Roses.
“I’ve had a brilliant journey from to Finland and now I am in Spain, it has been great for me,” she added.
“I must say, Sasol deserves a lot of recognition for uplifting women’s football in South Africa.”
Last year, Fulutudilu missed out on a place in the Banyana Banyana squad for the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana, but fought her way back when they were preparing for the Cyprus Cup early this year.
“Honestly, it was not a huge surprise,” she recalls, when she was included in the team.
Much as she enjoys family life, she admits to challenges in juggling between marriage and playing football.
“Getting married is awesome,” she says.
“I love being married. I love my amazing husband who is supporting my football dreams.”
- Mthokozisi Mkhonza is in France as a guest of Sasol.