SPOTLIGHT ON Thuto Maifo (Mehalalitoe)
LeFA: Can you tell us briefly about you?
Maifo: I was born in Maseru, in 1995. I fell in love with the game at an early age and started playing after watching a women’s tournament, where my mother used to work as a teacher. After years playing street football in Lithabaneng, I then joined now defunct-Abia Villa Ladies team. From there, I played for Roller Stars and I was also playing for our school team at Sefika High School.
LeFA: When did you start playing for the National Team?
Maifo: I was selected for the national team in 2016 and at that stage I was playing for the LDF Ladies team. I was over the moon to get the call-up. The reception was very warm from the coaches and players. They made me feel at home and it helped me to settle down quickly into the team. Mehalalitoe was under the mentorship of coach-Puseletso Selepe.
LeFA: Have you always played as a goalkeeper?
Maifo: No, I used to play as a defender and sometimes as a striker, but I was converted into a goalkeeper after I joined LDF. There was an injury crisis in the goalkeeping department and the coaches decided to play me there. That’s how I ended up playing in goals.
LeFA: How did the move to Metheo Ladies in the Sasol League in South Africa come about?
Maifo: They invited me for trials after seeing me play for the national team. I impressed during the trials and immediately signed for the club. I was very happy obviously, but it has been a tough journey because there is a lot of competition at the club and I always have to be at my best to continue playing.
LeFA: How is playing for Metheo Ladies improving your life?
Maifo: I get a salary on a monthly basis and the club is also paying for my studies. I’m studying part-time to prepare for life after football. I think it’s important for soccer players to make time for studies because football is a short career, which can be ended prematurely by injuries.
LeFA: Who is your favourite player?
Maifo: I loved Ronaldinho of Brazil and the late Senzo Meyiwa. Here at home, it’s Lineo Nono and Mosilinyana Lefaphane.
LeFA: What do you want to achieve as a player?
Maifo: I want to have a successful career and also play abroad. That can be achieved if I continue to work hard and improve as a player. The exposure of playing for the national team and in South Africa will surely be very helpful.
LeFA: You were impressive in the recent friendly match against Banyana Banyana despite the 3-0 loss. Was it your best game in the colours of the national team?
Maifo: No, it was not my best game for the national team. I will go for the match against Namibia at the 2017 COSAFA Cup. It was my first game at the tournament and I made a lot of good saves to help the team win the match 2-1. It still stands out for me up to this day as my best match in the national team colours.