Phuti Lekoloane

Active professional footballer, LGBTQ activist

The first outed professional footballer on the African continent and the second black outed professional footballer in soccer history (2015)

Who is he? What does he do?

Phuti Lekoloane, also known as Phuti Minaj, born in 1991 or 1992, is a South African soccer player and LGBTQ activist from Moletjie, Ga-kolopo. He played as a goalkeeper for JDR Stars and now plays for Tornado FC in the SAFA Second Division.

What is his personal experience of a life crisis and how did he overcome it?

As South Africa’s first openly gay soccer player, he has received support from many of his teammates, but he has also been the target of ridicule and harassment from opposing teams and fans. He experienced significant challenges in his career due to his sexuality, particularly when he was denied the opportunity to play in the Premier Soccer League. 

He experienced a significant moment of support when Yanga Nyobo, the daughter of the former chairman of his current club, came out to him as gay and explained that the club valued diversity. Since then, he has developed into the club’s best goalkeeper.

What is his inspiration?

Phuti joined Athlete Ally and founded the Phuti Lekoloane Foundation and the LGBTI Legacy Games to raise awareness of homophobia in sport and promote equality. 

Despite the difficulties, Phuti persevered and used his experiences to fight for other gay footballers and improve their environment. He wants to become the first openly gay player in the South African Premier Division.

Where is his favorite place in the world and why? What does he believe in?

Phuti is fully dedicated to his favorite sport and working to improve the climate for diversity, especially for queer people in Africa with his foundation, the Phuti Lekoloane Foundation.

“Focus on your joy. Do everything that feels good. Love yourself, inside and out.”

What was a special moment in his life or what did he experience with his partner?

His nickname “Phuti Minaj” comes from his mentor John Moshoeu, who gave him this name after catching Phuti twerking to a Nicki Minaj video. 

Phuti wore the number 91 jersey at JDR Stars in honor of his mentor John Moshoeu, who wore the number 10 jersey – “9 plus 1 equals 10”. He was honored to receive his blessing from the family.