6 February 2018 – Another female South African footballer is headed overseas. Linda Motlhalo, the Banyana Banyana playmaker, who also captains the South African U20 women’s National Team, has secured a one-year professional contract with the US-based club Houston Dash, where she will be plying her trade in one of the best women’s football leagues in the world alongside her national team captain, Janine Van Wyk who joined the club in 2016.
SAFA.net caught up with the 19-year-old midfielder from Kagiso, West of Johannesburg to find out how she feels about this career-boosting move abroad.
SAFA.net: Skipper, well done on this ground-breaking move, tell us how you feel about it?
Linda Motlhalo: Words cannot describe how I feel about this. It still feels like someone is going to wake me up and tell me it’s just a dream. It is still unreal that I Linda Mothlalo is going to play professional football overseas. I am excited and blessed to have been given this opportunity.
SAFA.net: You have been focused on the U20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers, tell us how this move came about. No one saw this one coming.
LM: To be honest I also didn’t see it coming (chuckles). I got a call from our former Banyana Banyana coach, Vera Pauw, I was at school at the time and she told me that she will be going to Houston Dash as a coach and would like me to be part of her team. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was shocked and amazed at what she said because I know how hard it is to crack it overseas because you need to be an exceptional player.
SAFA.net: You are only 19-years-old and will be competiting against some of the best players in the world. How does that make you feel?
LM: When it comes to football, to me age is just a number! My goal is to go out there, work hard and compete against the best. I want to make a name for myself but most importantly, make South Africa proud.
SAFA.net: Have you had a chat with Janine, and what advise has she given you?
LM: We have been talking every now and then. I even remember telling her that I want to go play at UWC this year and her response was that I need to definitely play football overseas this year. She has always encouraged me to be myself and never be afraid of facing new challenges because it will help me grow as a footballer.
SAFA.net: What does this opportunity mean for you as a footballer?
LM: It simply means that I need to grab it with both hands and not take it for granted. There is a lot of talent in the country and I have been fortunate enough to make it into the system and now I am going overseas.
There will always be a younger and better player than you so I told myself that whenever that happens, I need to be comfortable with the fact that I took all my chances and used them wisely. I work very hard so that I do not regret anything.
SAFA.net: Do you know anything about the league that you will be playing in?
I have read about it and seen some footage on social media. One thing I am definitely sure of is that I will be playing against big names such as Christen Press and Carli Lloyd.
SAFA.net: And what are you looking forward to the most about the league?
LM: Besides the growth of playing football outside of my comfort zone, I want to win the league, plain and simple!
SAFA.net: And lastly, Education is very important, what are your educational plans in future?
LM: I want to continue studying because that is very important. I always say that there is life after football and you need to prepare for it right now. I plan on studying Sports Science which relates very well with my love and passion for football.