3 March 2019– Banyana Banyana midfielder Molatelo Sebata is a perfect example of the saying, ‘Never give up on your dreams’.
At 31 years of age, she has been called back into the national team after an eight-year absence.
“To be honest I am over the moon. I never thought I would be back because of the injuries that were troubling me. So to see myself here, I still can’t believe it – I am overwhelmed,” said Sebata after one of Banyana Banyana training sessions in Cyprus.
The Bochum-born player in Limpopo was part of the squad that participated in Banyana Banyana’s first Cyprus Women’s Cup tournament in 2009.
“I was selected for the first time into the national team in 2008 by former coach Augustine Makalakane at a local tournament and in 2009 I was part of the first South African squad to play in the Cyprus Women’s tournament – I played against England and France in that year,” said an elated Sebata.
“Janine van Wyk, the current Banyana Banyana captain, Amanda Dlamini (retired Banyana Banyana captain), Lucinda Bowers, Simphiwe Dludlu (retired Banyana Banyana captain and current head coach of the SA U17 Women’s National Team – Bantwana), Noko Matlou and Nompumelelo Nyandeni, were my teammates on that tour. I was left out for some time and returned again in 2011 under coach Joseph Mkhonza – but injuries set in and I was never called again.”
Now at First Touch Academy in Limpopo, Sebata won the Sasol League with MaIndies in Limpopo in 2009, 2010 and 2013. She was again crowned champion with Kanatla Ladies, also in Limpopo, in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
She says while on the sidelines, she never lost hope but just continued to work hard. She was again spotted by the Banyana Banyana technical team at a Sasol League Road Show, and then again at the Sasol-League National Champs in Kimberly last year. She was selected for the international friendly matches against Sweden and the Netherlands in Cape Town in January, but she never featured in the games – now she is at the Cyprus Women’s Cup.
“It is amazing, here I am, years later, making a return to the same tournament I played in back in 2009. I can only be grateful for the opportunity, because it really means a lot. It was very difficult sitting on the outside not getting a call up,” added Sebata.
“But you have to understand that there are many talented players out there, so one had to keep on working hard and be patient. Also, if your team does not do well and you don’t get to play in the annual Sasol League National Champs, it is difficult for coaches to spot you. But when the time comes you have to take it with both arms and give it your all.”
She is proud of the Banyana Banyana following their qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, something they have longed for as players.
“This is a great achievement, and nothing comes close to it. I also know it means a lot, not just to the current players, but also for all the players who never got to the chance to be in the squad when qualification came. It has been everyone’s wish and dream that some day Banyana Banyana will qualify for this tournament – and now it has happened,” said Sebata.
“As for me, I am just glad that I was at the right place at the right time, I am happy that I am here when the squad is doing so well. And it is a lovely challenge because everyone is fighting hard as they don’t want to be left behind – we all want to go to the World Cup. I am working extremely hard to make sure that I am on that final list of players going to France.”
Even though Banyana Banyana is doing well, she is also aware that things will not be easy at World Cup, but she is full of hope.
“Honestly speaking, it is not going to be easy facing Spain, Germany and China, but at the same time seeing the way Banyana Banyana is playing, gives me a lot of hope because there is a lot of improvement in this team. We are much better than all those years back then. I believe we can get to the next stage, it’s just a matter of how much do we want it,” said Sebata.
With two matches remaining in the 2019 Cyprus Women’s Cup, she is hoping to get a run before the end of the tournament.
“It is all good and well to be in the squad, but for any player the most important thing is to play. It would be lovely to don the national team jersey again because that also increases your chances of selection for the next camp, and the one after that. But I am a very patient person and will keep working hard until I get my chance – and the rest will be up to me,” said Sebata.
Banyana Banyana face the Czech Republic on Monday, 4 March at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca.
Kickoff is at 13h00.
South Africa has already drawn one match and lost another.
They finished 6thin 2018.
Banyana Banyana is ranked 48thin the world, while the Czech Republic is 31st.