1 February 2018 – Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana midfielder Linda Motlhalo has landed herself a one-year professional contract at Houston Dash in the United States of America – they play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Motlhalo, who is also the captain of the South African U20 Women’s National Team (Basetsana), joins Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk at the US club.
The midfielder earned the contract following her great performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she was part of the Banyana Banyana squad under Vera Pauw, who is now the head coach of Houston Dash.
“Linda is one of the most promising talents of women’s football at this moment. Her qualities compliment the talent we have on our roster. She will bring variety in our attack and that will bring the best out of the other players. She can balance our team,” said Pauw.
“This move will ensure that South African players start to get recognised. Linda deserves this next step in her career. She has proven herself at the Olympics in Rio on a global stage. This contract opens doors for the world of women’s football to get to know her.”
Motlhalo joins several Banyana Banyana players who are plying their trade abroad – Kaylin Swart, Amogelang Motau, Robyn Moodaly, and Kelso Peskin, among others.
“The experience that the South African players bring in the country will not only add value to Banyana Banyana because of her growth in the game, but I am convinced it will also open the doors for others. Scouts will start to visit South Africa, whereas before not many knew about the high potential South African players can offer,” added Pauw.
Motlhalo has just completed her matric and plans are afoot for her to continue with her studies abroad.
“This just a perfect scenario, something we planned with her family back in 2016. Gratitude goes to her parents and uncle who have been instrumental in how we plan her success in life, their support has been phenomenal. I can only say the sky is the limit for her,” said Pauw.
She is expected to leave for Houston Dash at the beginning of March – pending receipt of her P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate, the club announced today..
Motlhalo made her debut with the South Africa’s Senior Women’s National Team at 17, scoring a goal in the 2-2 draw with Cameroon.
She joins Houston Dash after two seasons in the Sasol League where she was on the books of JVW F.C. Previously she was at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria.
The South African international has scored two goals and earned 14 caps with the senior team.
Motlhalo has made 25 appearances for the U20 National Team.
Motlhalo Fact File:
- Linda Motlhalo was born 1 July 1998
- Is a South African midfielder
- She is a member of Banyana Banyana, having previously played for the Under 20
- Her family has a footballing history, with her father Johannes Motlhalo attempting to become a professional player
- Although he failed to do so, his brother Joseph Motlhalo became a goalkeeper for Kaizer Chiefs between 1970 and 1985
- Her father convinced the owner of amateur team Might Bucs F.C. to create a women’s team, which Motlhalo began to play for at the age of 11
- She would train twice a day, with both the boys and girls
- She attended Tuks High School during which time she was part of the South African High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria
- While attending the High Performance Centre, she played for the SA Women’s U20 team as a forward
- This included in matches as part of the 2015 African U20 Women’s WC qualifying tournament
- Motlhalo was called up to the senior squad for the first time in October 2015, following an injury to forward Thembi Kgatlana
- Motlhalo did not play at the time, but she made her debut against Cameroon in 2016, in which she scored in the 2-2 draw.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON DASH
- The Houston Dash is a National Women’s Soccer League club that began play in April 2014 for the start of the league’s second season
- The Dash were the first expansion club in the NWSL, joining the eight original members that launched the league in 2013
- The NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation
- It is the top-flight women’s professional soccer league in North America, featuring many of the top players from the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as talent from around the world
- The 24-game regular season runs from April through September
- The team trains at Houston Sports Park (HSP), the premier training facility in Southeast Texas, and plays at BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston.
For more information, visit www.HoustonDashSoccer.com or call (713) 276-GOAL.