Refiloe Jane and Thembi Kgatlana are two of the many stars the Banyana Banyana team have on their roster. The team heading to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup has many talented players. These players have what it takes to compete with the best in football.
During the team’s send-off on May 23, The Daily Vox team caught up with Jane and Kgatlana.
Refiloe “Fifi” Jane has been playing for national football since 2012. She made her debut at the age of 20 years old. Fifi got her big break through the Future Champions tournament. She beat out 1000 other kids to train in England.
For all the young girls dreaming of living Jane’s dream, she says they should work hard to achieve their dreams.
“Never give up. You’ll never know when you’re about to break it,” she says.
Jane, current team vice-captain along with Lebohang Ester Ramalepe is getting to take on the biggest teams in the world. She will be leading from the front when Banyana steps on the pitch in France.
Jane has played in two Olympic Games, won two African Women’s Nations Cup medals and scored twice in the final of a Cosafa Cup. She is part of a small group of Banyana players who has reached 100 caps.
Jane started her professional career for Mamelodi Sundowns. She now plays in Australia for Canberra United. Jane left Sundowns because they did not want to pay for her education. She went on to play for Tshwane University of Technology and the Vaal University of Technology.
Speaking to The Daily Vox Jane looked calm with a hint of nervousness.
She says she is very excited for the tournament and is looking forward to what lies ahead in the tournament.
Jane says besides the tournament, she’s excited to see what France has to offer. “I want to learn the language, culture, doing some sightseeing,” she said.
Being a professional football is a very stressful job. Added to that is the many expectations the team has for this particular World Cup. Danny Jordan, SAFA president outlined the many demands they have for the team during the send-off.
“I listen to music, read a book and write,” says Jane about how she tries to de-stress.
Jane is currently reading Susan Cain “Quiet”, a book about the power of introverts.
Accompanying Banyana’s great success on the world stage has been an outpouring of support. Jane says the team appreciates the support. “We hope moving forward we can get more and more people behind the team,” she said.
The 2018 African Women’s Footballer of the Year, Kgatlana almost didn’t even play football at first. Growing up her mother wanted her to play netball and was confused that the young Thembi was more inclined to football. Now of course her mom couldn’t be prouder of her daughter and her many achievements.
The 23-year-old is at her peak, playing brilliant football. During the CAF Awards where she won women footballer of the year, Kgatlana picked up Goal of the Year‚ competing against men and women players.
The close bond between the team might play a big role in how the team fare in France. Kgatlana says all the players have different personalities but that’s what their strength lies.
“Today if I’m not having a good day, my teammate will start singing and encouraging me. It’s the same for everyone. We spend a lot of time together so we are like family,” she said.
Kgatlana is currently playing in China for Beijing BG Phoenix FC. Previously she played in the US for Houston Dash. Speaking to the Mail and Guardian in February, she said she chose China because of the growing development of women’s football.
She said: “There are a couple of Africans that are already there. It’s a market that’s growing and they’re attracting a lot of African players. Most of the times in the leagues we are not easily accepted. You first have to have a lot of achievements before someone gives you an opportunity.”
She is beyond excited for the World Cup. “It’s our first time and like the coach said we’re not going there to add numbers. Everyone should watch and see what Banyana has in store,” she said.
She can’t wait to go saying: “I’m going to have fun. I’m going to enjoy myself for sure.”
And a final word from The Daily Vox: Good luck to the team. We are rooting for you!