South Africa’s first openly gay football player Phuti Minaj was brought to tears last night after being named the 2021 Sports Personality of the Year at the 13th annual Feather Awards.
Phuti Minaj (real name Phuti Lekoloane) is a South African footballer and queer activist.
He hails from Moletjie, Ga-Kolopo which is a rural township near Polokwane in Limpopo.
According to his biography, Phuti Minaj has previously played for smaller teams such as JDR Stars and Tornado F.C.
He is considered Africa’s first openly gay male footballer after he came out publicly in July 2015.
Phuti Minaj moved the room after he was reduced to tears following his win and took a moment before saying his acceptance speech.
“It’s an honour to stand before you today as Sports Personality of the Year. It’s an honour to win something from a sport that took so much from me,” he said, audibly holding back his tears.
“It’s not easy being a gay footballer in South Africa. I would like to thank the gay community in South Africa for not giving up on me and for supporting me all the way. Without your support I wouldn’t be here,” added Phuti.
His nickname, Phuti Minaj, was given to him by his mentor, the late John Moshoeu, who found him twerking while he was watching a video by rapper Nicki Minaj.