mutola shines as best striker

ONE of the world's athletics superstars, Maria Mutola of Mozambique, has found a new home in soccer. Having hung up her spikes, she now plays in Safa's Sasol League.

ONE of the world's athletics superstars, Maria Mutola of Mozambique, has found a new home in soccer. Having hung up her spikes, she now plays in Safa's Sasol League.

Also known as Lurdinha, the successful but down-to-earth Mutola has joined Germiston outfit Luso Africa where she plays as a striker par excellence.

"When I quit athletics at the end of last year, I decided to pursue a new career in soccer because sport is in my blood," said Mutola yesterday.

An Olympic gold medallist and 14- times world champion, Mutola featured in the International Women's Championships in Westbury, Johannesburg, at the weekend.

However, Mutola's invitation team, Matola Ladies Football Club of Mozambique, were defeated 4-1 by Rainbow Ladies from Johannesburg in the final at Union Stadium on Sunday.

In that four-day-long event, Mutola, who has a house in Fourways, Johannesburg, won the top goalscorer of the tournament award after rattling the net 11 times in four matches.

"It has been great playing soccer and I'm enjoying myself in this game. I quit athletics because I felt it was time for me to move on. Also, the hamstring injury was troubling me," she said.

"Everything is so right in women's soccer, I will just see where the sport takes me to. I always believe in myself, I know that I have a bright future in soccer."

Besides being actively involved in soccer in South Africa, Mutola is also helping out with the development of athletics in Mozambique.

"I have quite a number of athletes back home that I assist through my foundation. They have started competing in Southern Africa and in other parts of the continent.

"It's part of my social programme and I want to see more athletes coming from Mozambique to set the international arena alight. We have talent in abundance and it is important for people like us to create opportunities for them to compete against the best in the world."

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