Playing football at the highest level in South Africa requires as much patience as it does passion, according to members of the country’s national women’s squad. The Chronic meets four players who have displayed healthy doses of both for the opportunity to don national colours and run the pitch for Banyana Banyana.
JERMAINE SEOPOSENWE – Striker
I played for Engen Santos ladies team for just about a year then suddenly got a call-up to the Under-17 national women’s team for trials. They just qualified for the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. The coach was looking to improve his squad. I showed my worth by scoring two goals on my debut against England. When we returned from the World Cup, I received a call-up to the senior national team. At the tender age of 17 I was playing for Banyana.
It’s changed my outlook. I respect the game more now. It has taught me things like patience and anger management – I used to get very angry. I learnt to keep it under control through the game. But that first love will always be the same. It can’t change because then the game will change! My love for the game keeps it interesting no matter what happens.
When I was younger I wanted to play for Sky Blue FC in the States, but that was just because Marta Vieira da Silva, one of the best players in the game, was playing for them. I always wondered how it would be to step onto a field with her, but things have changed. I’m older now and more mature. Given a choice, I would love to either go for Arsenal because they are such a traditional English team – not to mention the amazing players that play at the team, or Olympic Lyon in France.
MARY NTSWENG – Mid-fielder
I started playing in 2003. We had a women’s local team in Mphahlele, Limpopo. It wasn’t an easy ride, my mother didn’t support me at first. But it didn’t take her long to realise that I was very talented and she’s been behind me since. In 2006, I got called up for trials at the High Performance Centre situated in Pretoria, where the Under-20 academy is. The following year I was invited to stay, to play soccer and continue with my high school studies there. I took the opportunity. During my stay there in 2007, I received a call-up to the senior national team. I became a regular until I left the academy in 2008, when I completed my Grade 12. I’ve been on the national team since.
I’ve gotten lots of experience playing against different countries and my game has improved because of this experience. But it’s hard sometimes. I don’t get a salary in the women’s football league. You don’t get paid for soccer in South Africa, unless you play for the national team, but even that is not regular; you get called after three or even six months. I would like to play long-term, but for now, because there’s no professional football in South Africa, I plan to focus on my studies.
It would be great to see things change in the long run, but I sometimes lose hope that they will. So for now I just keep playing because of the passion I have for the game.
JANINE VAN WYK – Defender, Mamelodi Sundowns FC
I started playing at the age of 5 – with boys, as there were no girls’ teams. I joined my first girls’ team at the age of 15, and was selected from there to stay at the High Performance Centre and also to play for the national Under-20 team. From there I was selected for Banyana Banyana.
I’ve always loved football, but I never thought I would actually make it to the national team. Now that I am here, it’s such a privilege. There are lots of youngsters who look up to me and I know I have to set an example to show them that they can achieve whatever they set out to do.
I started the JVW Women’s Football Development a year ago so that I could give younger girls the opportunity to excel in the sport. It’s not a male-dominated field anymore, so I want to show them that they can excel if they work hard at it. It has been great so far.
On club level I’m currently playing for Sundowns FC. I do earn a small amount, but it is less than R2,000 a month. My dream would be to play for the USA. They are one of the best teams in the world. I want to play the best and gauge where my skills lie.
ANDILE DLAMINI – Goal Keeper, Mamelodi Sundowns, FC
I started out playing for my club, Mamelodi Sundowns, and then I got spotted by the national team’s coaches, who recruited me. Every girl who plays soccer dreams of playing for Banyana Banyana, so for me to play and to be spotted by the coaches was a great achievement. I’m still young, I’m still growing in the sport, so I’d like to play for Banyana for as long as possible. It’s an indescribable feeling. My love for soccer has grown by being in the team, so I worked hard at it so I can grow even further. I also earn an income when I play for the national team, but not for the clubs.