Interest in women’s football has been growing steadily, especially since the international success of the national team, Banyana Banyana.

The team has made their mark with players including Janine Van Wyk, Linda Mothlalo and Thembi Kgatlana.

Kgatlana now plays for Houston Dash in the United States’ National Women’s Soccer league. She was a member of the Banyana Banyana team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Last year, Banyana booked a semi-final spot in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Women’s Cup, with a convincing 3-1 win over Namibia.

The team was crowned COSAFA champions after beating Zimbabwe 2-1 in a thrilling final, with Thembi Kgatlana, winning player of the tournament.

Banyana Banyana and Kgatlana were nominees for the Confederation of African Football Women’s National Team of Year and Women’s Player of the Year accolades in Accra, Ghana, on January 4.

Under Coach Desiree Ellis, Banyana achieved five wins, one draw and one loss in the seven matches they played in 2017. Twenty two-year-old Kgatlana says she is proud of her achievements.

“It took me a whole 14 years to be where I am and it was because of patience and it was because of taking right decisions.”

Like Kgatlana, Linda Motlhalo has also secured a one-year professional contract with the US-based club, Houston Dash. She is plying her trade in one of the best women’s football leagues in the world, alongside her national team captain, Janine Van Wyk.

She believes hard work pays off. “It’s not easy, this is a difficult journey because you get people who discourage you, who would disturb you to stay focused work hard never give up.”

As members of the Banyana team, coached by Desiree Ellis, they have helped the team to five wins, one draw and only one loss in the seven matches it played in 2017. Ellis has expressed her view on the Under 17 team coach, Simphiwe Dludlu’s reign.

She says the team has done well under Dludlu who she thinks has had a positive influence on the players.

In Netball, former Spar Proteas player Dumisani Chauke, retired from international netball in 2014 to focus on coaching. Chauke started her coaching relationship with Jenny Van Dyk in the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League last season, with the Gauteng Jaguars.

The Jaguars finished second after losing to the Free State Crinums for the third time in a row.

Chauke’s star has risen and she now sits on the national Under-21, the Spar Baby Proteas, bench alongside Van Dyk.

“I retired because I wanted to pursue or focus more on my coaching and my coaching journey which then started at that point in time in 2016. I was appointed assistant coach of Gauteng jaguars in the brutal fruit so that was an interesting learning experience’.”

Netball South Africa has named a 26 member team national squad which will be whittled down to a national squad of 12, after training in August.