27 January 2019 – Prior to our departure to Ghana for the Africa Women Cup of Nations, I received questions about whether or not I believed Banyana Banyana would qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and I would confidently answer “Yes”.
I truly believed that the amount of talent in our squad was more than enough to take us all the way to the World Cup. The quality of hard work, dedication, and teamwork that I have seen in this team, is incredible.
Qualifying for the World Cup is a dream come true, not only for myself but for all the players, managers, the technical team, upcoming players, and South Africa as a whole. We have done well as a team, with numerous achievements that I am very proud of, but qualifying for the World Cup is the crowning achievement of our careers.
Rather than viewing this as the culmination of a decade of planning, we must see it as the beginning of a new era for women’s football. It is amazing to see the hope that we have awakened in our South African fans and young women looking up to us. It is proof that women footballers in South Africa have the potential to become the best and are more than capable of competing on the world stage.
The opportunities are limitless – it is up to us and the upcoming players to grow and keep improving women’s football in South Africa. Each one of us has the ability to work harder and become even better.
I’m confident that this qualification will open more doors and build support for the team. I hope that it pushes sponsors to come on board and support women’s football in our country. This achievement has proven that women are capable and that we truly are limitless.
World Cup qualification is evidence that dreams can come true for aspiring young women in football. I hope that this inspires them to take their talent seriously and work hard, because doing so can only take women’s football to greater heights.
There is an African proverb that says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – and this means that for a child to reach their full potential it takes a community of various individuals who each play a different role.
For myself and Banyana Banyana, this village includes our parents and guardians who made sacrifices for us to get to matches and trials, coaches who put in the hard work for no pay when we were starting out, and also Sasol, the biggest supporter and sponsor for the past ten years.
It is not often that you get a sponsor that is so involved with the team. Sasol has been there for us from the beginning, helping us achieve our goals all the way to our first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. Through their #Limitless initiative, which also includes an internship programme for Banyana Banyana players, Sasol has also unleashed a whole new perception on the potential and growth of women’s football in South Africa.
Thembi Kgatlana winning Goal of the Year, Player of the Year and coach Desiree Ellis winning Coach of the Year at the 2018 CAF Awards is what #Limitless is all about. It’s about celebrating powerful women who reach for their dreams no matter the circumstances or challenges they face. I’m so proud of Thembi and coach Desiree, and I am inspired to give it my all every time I go onto the field.
Our journey to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup continues and the Winnie Mandela International Challenge and the Albertina Sisulu Centenary Challenge were definitely a good start for us as we were able to compete against Netherlands and Sweden, who are ranked 7thand 9thin the world respectively.
It is great to have such opportunities provided by SAFA and Sasol giving us a chance to compete against some of the best teams in the world. These types of games are definitely helping us in improving our competitiveness.
Our greatest gratitude also goes to the people of Cape Town, who made these games memorable – your support really inspires us to do more, it’s a clear indication of how much backing this team is receiving from the entire country.
To those who continue to support and help grow women’s football, coaches, parents, teachers we see you, we salute you. Continue being a village that helps support our girls grow and reach their potential.I look forward to seeing an even brighter future for women’s football.