Johannesburg, 4 September 2023 – Proteas wicketkeeper/batter Sinalo Jafta had been planning her move to the DP World Lions for a couple of years, and now that she is ensconced at the DP World Wanderers Stadium, she says she has been blown away by the professionalism and care that the women’s team enjoys.
The 28-year-old Jafta was born in East London, went to Pukke in 2012 and played for North-West before moving to Western Province in 2019. She made her debut for the Proteas in October 2016 and has become a core player as the national side enters a new era after the retirement of several stalwarts in recent years.
But a return to the Highveld was always on her mind.
“I had a conversation with Shaun Pretorius [DP World Lions ladies coach] two years ago about coming to Joburg,” Jafta said. “Shaun was very honest and said there is young talent coming up and I will have to work for my place. It’s the professionalism and the care that has impressed me most since coming here. When I spoke to CEO Jono Leaf-Wright, I just felt it. And the care the Lions show is amazing.”
“Coach Shaun is always willing to throw balls and he has really helped me prepare for the Pakistan series. If you need anything, they will always make sure they can do it for you, but if they can’t, then they will tell you openly. So I came to the DP World Wanderers to help the success of the province and be part of a system that really cares for women’s cricket,” Jafta said from Karachi, where the Proteas were preparing for a six-match white-ball series against Pakistan.
Pretorius has said he envisages a mentorship role for Jafta, over-and-above the class she will bring on the field. Despite her bubbly personality, Jafta has been through some tough personal times and she speaks from experience when she says she wants to help the younger players in the Lions squad to realise they don’t need to worry about what others think of them.
“I’m just taking things one day at a time and trying to be myself authentically. I’m not afraid now to say ‘no’ to what I don’t want to do and ‘yes’ to what I do want to do. It’s very important to show the youngsters just to be yourself, embrace who you are, and figure out a way to fit into any team structure. You don’t want to lose yourself halfway through your career, and I can tell them about that. You must allow yourself to fail, don’t be scared of failure, that’s where you learn. The more you fail, the better you’ll be in the long run, as long as you are willing to ask for help and willing to go back to the drawing board,” Jafta said.
Pretorius said Jafta’s experience and willingness to speak out were the main qualities he looked at when bringing her to the DP World Lions.
“I mostly looked at the fact Sinalo has played around the world, she has lots of experience, and she will bring professionalism within the team and at training. She’s also not scared to speak her mind and we encourage that at the Lions, we want to hear the players’ opinions on training, game-plans and strategies. I also see her as being a mentor in the team space, both mentally and socially, for the younger players. We want to make sure every player is taken care of. She’s very open and honest and that’s how you develop younger players. Sinalo is going to add a lot of value,” Pretorius said.
While a month of running in Johannesburg has reminded Jafta of the effects of altitude – “the air is so thin!” she laughed – the veteran of two Cricket World Cups knows that the only way to reach great heights in her career is through dedication.
“Johannesburg has taught me about hard work. I’m really focused about what I am doing now. It was because I want to put my career first that I moved to the Lions,” Jafta said.
The current 2022/23 CSA T20 competition champions are ready to retain their trophy, break the records and claim greater glory this season. Their pursuit of greatness is about to get underway and with fixtures set to be released soon, please stay tuned to the Lions Cricket platforms:
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