South African athlete Phuti Lekoloane says he loves the sport of football. But he says that his other love has hindered his athletic career. You see, Lekoloane is Africa’s first openly gay professional male footballer, and that title comes with a lot of drama.
Speaking to the BBC, Lekoloane shared that he's a goalie in the third tier of South African football, but he has dreams of making it further. But, he finds the stereotypes towards being openly gay have made the road a rocky one.
“The stereotypes that people have around gay people in football is that gay people are sissies, they are soft, they are not manly. And the other thing is the question of the changing room. What happens in the changing room.”
He also noted how he has faced discrimination within the sport.
“I was playing in Jo’burg, in the ABC league in Gauteng, and we lost a game and a player said to the whole team, ‘We only lost this game because we have a sissy in the team.’ And that didn’t sit well with me. I cried on that day, but I had to move on because I’m a professional.”
Lekoloane then talks about joining a supportive team, the challenges of being openly gay in sport, the type of mentality gay players have to keep, his message to gay players coming behind him, and the kind words of his teammates.
If you want to hear all of that, you can watch the video down below.