22 August 2018 – Refiloe Jane was just six years old when she realised that the round object called a soccer ball was the love of her life. Her parents approved of the relationship to continue because it made their daughter really happy.
Endless hours she would spend with it in her parents’ backyard (in Klipspruit Soweto), learning the required skill of how to tame the soccer ball with the simple caress of her feet. Her father and two brothers saw the fire in the eyes and encouraged her to continue playing the sport.
However, never in their mortal minds did they ever imagine that the youngest member of the family would go on to make history with it alongside her Banyana Banyana teammate and buddy, Rhoda Mulaudzi.
Jane and Mulaudzi became first South Africans to earn professional contracts with Australian women’s premier league side, Canberra United FC. The capital side confirmed the historic move on their official website on Monday morning (20 August 2018).
Jane, still in disbelief when she reflected on how Canberra coach, Heather Garriock, told her that she and Mulaudzi would be joining the side for the upcoming Westfield W-League season, following a two-week long trial Down Under.
“Words struggled to come out of my mouth when coach Garriock told me the news,” Jane says. “I just couldn’t believe it. My own dream was manifesting right in front of my eyes. It was so surreal just to take it all in at one go.
“I tried calling my parents to tell them of the good news; however, my call wouldn’t go through. That is when I decided to call my manager (Christa Kgampe). She is the one who was able to pass on that message to everybody. It was unbelievable.
“I would like to thank everybody who played a part in making this dream move possible,” Jane added. “Tshepo ‘Vhafuwi’ Makanamise especially, he was the one who recommended both Rhoda and I to coach Garriock in the first place. We will forever be grateful for what he did for us.”
Asked when did her dream of wanting to go and play abroad started, Jane said: “It actually started when I was 15 years old. I won a Future Champions football talent identification search where, as part of my prize, I was given an opportunity to fly out to England and train with sides like Arsenal and Everton Ladies FC.
“And although I had not gone there for trials, both coaches of the teams wanted me to stay. That is when I realised that I might actually have some special talent to offer the beautiful game. And that is when I started pursuing this dream of mine of wanting to go and play abroad. I am glad it’s finally happening.”
Both Jane and Mulaudzi return to Australia next week to begin life in the Australian women’s league.