23 September 2019 – Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk is in Denmark and setting in nicely as she starts a new life with Fortuna Hjorring that plays in the Elitedivisionen (the highest-level league competition for women’s football clubs in Danish football).

Van Wyk, founder of JVW FC, played in the USA for Houston Dash before returning home to focus on the national team.

She is currently unable to play due to a knee injury she sustained while playing for Banyana Banyana – but her new club still signed her.

The defender is at the end of her rehabilitation process and should be back in action soon.

She spoke to SAFA Media from her new home in Denmark, and here is what she had to say:

Congratulations on your move, how have you been received in Denmark?

It’s been unbelievable how the people here are so friendly and caring for others. The moment I arrived I already felt part of the team the way I’ve been accepted and welcomed.

It’s not often that players are signed while injured, how did that make you feel?

I honestly thought that I would not sign for the club after the injury occurred. Not many clubs would take on that risk of signing a contract and not have that player perform her duties straight away. I am blessed to have come across such a caring club that has been so supportive throughout my injury.

And whilst on that point, how far are you with rehabilitation? How much progress have you made?

I have made some big steps in my recovery. I thought it would be harder than it has been but I’ve had very supportive people help me get through the process, which I am truly grateful for. My rehabilitation is going well. I am able to run and pass a ball again after almost 8 weeks. I am almost at the end of it all before I make my return in the next few weeks.

Your team played over the weekend and it must have been difficult to watch from the sidelines since you just love being on the pitch.

Yeah, it was one of the craziest football matches I’ve seen. An 8-5 win over our opponent was good but I still ask myself today how that happened. I think I have come to terms that my recovery is more important than anything right now and that I don’t want to rush back. Watching from the side wasn’t too frustrating. I did however watch to see how I could contribute and where I would fit in when I do come back.

After leaving the USA it didn’t seem like you wanted to go back abroad, what made this move come about?

I honestly thought I was done playing abroad after playing football in the U.S. I was fully concentrated on qualifying for our maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup and then participating in the tournament, and then potentially retiring – that was the initial plan. But then again, football and life just works in mysterious ways. I believe today that things happen for a reason.

When I traveled with my JVW U/16 team to Denmark to participate in the Dana Cup (Youth Tournament), I was asked by the organizers of the Dana Cup if I would like to train with Fortuna Hjorring while I was here. I thought, why not? I’m here anyway and I would like to learn a thing or two from a top club. I had three sessions with the team and I thoroughly enjoyed the football style.

The day before I left to go back home after the tournament ended, the club’s management called me into their office to offer me a contract right there and then. I literally had 12 hours to decide whether or not I want to take this opportunity.  I called a couple of people to help me decide and my answer to them was yes after I negotiated a very important deal that would not only benefit me, but mostly my football club JVW.

How long are you in Denmark for? Any plans to move to another country?

I have signed to play here for one season but we will see what the plans are after then.

What is your jersey number and why did you chose that one (if it is not 5)

The club has offered me the no 5 jersey. They know I give my best when I wear that on my back.

So what do you do in your spare time? Where do you stay? How do you get to training/clubhouse?

I stay at the Academy Center in my own little room. I love it. I have my own space and it’s perfect for me. Some of my teammates stay next door to me so we are all near each other. The training fields are literally 100m walking distance. Everything is close by hence I’ve been given a bicycle to get me where I need to be.

On the Banyana Banyana front, you must have been disappointed sitting on the sidelines and the team lost to Botswana? Has it sunk in yet that we are not going to the Tokyo Olympics?

Yeah, I still am in disbelief that we couldn’t get past the first round of the Olympic Qualifiers. It’s a huge disappointment and let down for Banyana Banyana. It’s just not good enough and we can’t make any excuses. We are a better team. We just came from the World Cup and played top quality opponents to gain all that knowledge and experience. How we lost that game is unbelievable. Hopefully it’s a learning curve for everyone.

Everyone was disappointed with the result against Botswana, what will it take to make team forget about that result and move on?

It’s a huge disappointment to all of us. We have to be professional enough to work hard at our mistakes and ourselves. We have to learn that no team is an easy opponent.  The next game we play should be played as if we don’t have another choice but to win, so we can get that confidence back within ourselves. We can’t accept bad losses and performances anymore. We are better than that.

At club level, congratulations for the win at Ekurhuleni Women in Sport Awards. Club football of the year – surely you are doing something right at JVW FC?

Thank you. It’s been a long time coming but we waited patiently for the recognition and continued to work hard to ensure the club runs in a smooth but professional manner. We currently have over a 100 players playing at the club and players getting opportunities to showcase themselves at National team camps. We currently have three U/17 players at the COSAFA CUP in Mauritius (and one of them is the captain – Jessica Wade) and I believe we are still producing more talented players to join them.

The club consists only of female coaches who all are working hard to get their coaching badges to ensure the players are reaching higher levels with each training session.

Our administrators are on point and always working hard to ensure the club is out there for people to see what we are doing.

All in all, we have a great club where everyone is happy to perform at their best.

And how does it feel like being crowned the Sports Personality of the Year on the same night?

Receiving the Sportswoman of the Year award is an absolute honour. I always strive to be the best I can be for myself and others around me, especially the youth. I believe if I set good examples, others will be inspired to do the same.

Lastly, the newly formed SAFA National Women’s League is in full swing. Your thoughts about it so far?

I honestly think it’s a good platform for players to compete in, I do however feel that it needs time to grow. Everyone right now expects miracles of the league being more competitive and professional, but it’s still very new and the organization needs to identify the small problems in order for it to be bigger and better, just like any other organization.

We still need to be able to make a career from what we love to do, which right now is still a problem.

 

FACT FILE – FORTUNA HJORRING:

 

ELITEDIVISIONEN:

  • Elitedivisionen (also called Gjensidige Kvindeligaen for sponsorship reasons) is the highest-level league competition for women’s football clubs in Danish football
  • The first national championship was contested in 1973
  • The current name Elitedivisionen was established in 1994
  • Denmark is one of the top eight women’s associations in the UEFA, so that the top two teams of each season qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League
  • Since 2002, only Brøndby IF and Fortuna Hjørring have won the league title
DANISH WOMEN’S LEAGUE TITLES:
Titles Club Seasons
12 Brøndby IF 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019
10 Fortuna Hjørring 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018
10 HEI Aarhus 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1997, 1998
5 B 1909 1981, 1983, 1985, 1992, 1993
5 Ribe 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1979
3 BK Femina 1975, 1977, 1980
2 Odense BK 2000, 2001

 

Honours:

  • UEFA Women’s Cup
    • Runner-up: 2003
  • Danish League(9)
    • Champion: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2014, 20162018
  • Danish Cup(8)
    • Champion: 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2016, 2019
  • Danish Indoor Cup (4)
    • Champion: 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001

 

 

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