20 February 2018 – Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana midfielder, Thembi Kgatlana, is excited about her move to the United States of America where she will now play for Houston Dash after signing a one-year professional contract with Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Kgatlana joins recent Dash signee, Linda Motlhalo – captain of the South African U20 Women’s National Team (Basetsana) – who is also now on the books of the American outfit.
“I am super excited about my move to Dash. To be honest, I thought I was going to get a deal after the Rio Olympics in 2016, but nothing came my way – so here we are, two years later my dream is becoming a reality,” said Kgatlana.
“This move means a lot to me because I had to be patient for the past two years. I didn’t rush into taking a scholarship deal overseas as it has always been my dream to play professional football overseas.”
Also registered with the American club is the captain of the South African Senior Women’s National Team, Janine van Wyk, who returns for her second season.
The thee players have been called up for the Banyana Banyana squad that will play in the Cyprus Women’s Cup, which runs from 28 February to 7 March – and they will leave for the USA immediately after the tournament.
Kgatlana adds that the move for all the three players also believes this augurs well for women’s football in South Africa.
“The signing of Janine, Linda and now myself, is a clear indication that women’s football is going in the right direction in this country, and we are clearly being recognised around the world. We also have several players in colleges abroad, so this is just exciting times to be a woman footballer in South Africa,” added the player known also as Pikinini.
“It would be nice to have more players overseas as this will benefit the country even more. I know we have a lot of talented players who should already be playing there, but I am confident with time, this will happen.”
The forward is happy to be reunited with former Banyana Banyana head coach Vera Pauw.
“I can never express my gratitude enough for Vera as she has shown a lot of confidence in me by recruiting me to a team she has just joined. The only way I can repay her would be do well, not just for myself but for the entire country. We must see this mission as being that of ambassadors, because if we do well, this will open doors for many more players from South Africa, and in turn this will make Banyana Banyana and all the other national teams stronger,” said Kgatlana.
Full Names: Thembi Chrestinah Kgatlana
Place of Birth: Leratong Hospital
Date of birth: 1996-05-02
Position: L/R winger
Current Club: Houston Dash (USA)
Current League: Sasol League
Previous Clubs: University of The Western Cape Ladies Football Club (UWC) Parma Ladies FC, Lusaka Ladies FC, TUT
Honours/Achievements: (2009-2010) top goal scorer for West Rand School League
(2011) Captain for Parma Ladies FC – on tour to Denmark for Dana Cup, knocked out in the quarterfinals
(2013-2014) Vice-captain of the SAFA HPC
(2014) Ballon D’ Or award winner at HPC
(2015) Sports Woman of the Year (University of the WC)
(2016) Rio Olympic Games with Banyana Banyana
2nd appearance – African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) – 2014 and 2016
(2016) Sasol Western Cape Champions with UWC
(2016) Coke Cup champions with UWC
(2016) Varsity Cup runners up with UWC
(2016) Special Recognition Award from UWC Sports
(2017) Club Champs Runners-Up with UWC
(2017) Top goal scorer and Player of the Tournament for Club Champs
(2017) World Student Games (Taipei) – finished 4th
(2017) COSAFA CUP Player of the tournament – Zimbabwe
(2017) Sports Women of the Year of UWC
(2017) Female overall achiever of UWC SDS Awards
(2017) Honours award for UWC
(2017) Senior Female top goal scorer for UWC Ladies Football Club
(2017) Women of the Year for SAFA Cape Town
(2017) Nominee – CAF African Sports Woman of the Year Award.
Best Achievement to date: African Women Player of the Year nomination (2017)
Caps Banyana Banyana: 28
Caps U20: 11
Caps U17: 6
Goals Banyana Banyana: 8
Favourite local club: Cape Town City FC
Favourite club abroad: None
Favourite Music: Gospel
Educational Background: Currently studying BA in Tourism at UWC