Captain of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Janine van Wyk, has shrugged off her injuries and is back on the field playing the game she loves.
She has now become a regular for Scottish giants Glasgow City.
Founder and owner of JVW FC, that campaigns in the SAFA National Women’s League, Van Wyk has also been on the books of Houston Dash (USA) and Fortuna Hjorring Denmark).
She is the highest capped South African footballer – female or male – with 170 appearances for her country, and led Banyana Banyana at their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Van Wyk spoke to SAFA Media from Glasgow and this is what she had to say:
Good to see you back on the field after your injury, how are things going?
Things have been going really well. I’ve been feeling good and strong after my injury and now playing full 90-minute games again, which feels great.
We see you also getting on the score sheet at times, that’s very encouraging – how did it feel like scoring for your new club?
It honestly felt good to score a goal again – something I haven’t done in a while. It was an important game to win too against a strong opposition, and I’m happy that I contributed to that victory.
Scotland is a very cold country, how are you surviving in the snow? Does it affect your game?
Yeah, the weather here is very different to African weather for sure. I loved every bit of training in the snow and going for walks on it. It’s my first experience with it and I love it. It’s getting warmer by the day as it’s slowly turning into summer so I’m happy for that.
You must be happy with yourself being back on the field – more so after leaving Denmark without playing.
Yes, I’m extremely happy to be back doing what I love most. It’s been a tough past year of being inactive on the pitch, but now I am enjoying every minute of playing football again.
How does it feel like being the first South African female footballer to play in Scotland? And you were also the first too in the USA…
Although I am the first South African to play in the American and Scottish leagues, it feels good to be out there representing not only South Africa but also the African continent as a whole in these leagues.
In the USA you had familiar faces (Thembi/Linda), in Denmark you were all alone, now in Scotland you have Ode. How important is that kind of setup where you have your compatriot nearby, especially in the same team?
It’s always nice to have a compatriot near by. It’s fun that I have someone to talk to about our country, to laugh about things that we have experienced together in the past. We also encourage and bring out the best of each other. Being next to them almost feels like you have something with you that feels like home.
Glasgow are the defending champions and still top of table – it must be exciting when you think of laying your hands on your first foreign league medal?
I am working extremely hard to maintain a clean sheet with my fellow teammates to get one of those gold medals in my hands. It will be a huge achievement for me in my career to win a league title abroad.
You must be over the moon to be wearing jersey number 5. How did that happen? Was it waiting for you?
I wouldn’t sign the contract without knowing that I would get the #5 jersey. (Laughing…) Ha ha ha, just kidding! It was offered to me as soon as I arrived.
How do you spend your free time in Glasgow?
Glasgow is so beautiful. I love being here and exploring the history of the city – the landmarks are just incredibly gorgeous. So during my off days I grab coffee and walk around the hundreds of parks they have around here, stretch the legs and get fresh air with and have fun with my teammates.
Going back to the Sasol League, you played your 170 caps for country while playing there – there must something special about the league?
There is always something special playing in your own country. The league gets more and more competitive as years go by with all the young talent coming through.
So how important is Sasol League?
It’s important to have a competitive league for women to play in. It’s a platform for players to get recognized to represent the National team.
What advice do you have for those still playing there, perhaps with dreams of playing for Banyana Banyana or even going abroad?
Continue to play the game, and if you have hopes and dreams to play either for the National team or move abroad, then keep working harder than anyone else. Someone out there will spot the talent you bring to the game. Don’t give up. My first pro contract came when I was 29 years of age – so anything is possible at any time or stage of your career.
JVW are newcomers in the SAFA National Women’s League and doing very well at the very start – you (the team) must be doing something right?
The team is doing extremely well and I am so proud of them. They work hard and want to achieve great results and be the best in the league. That is obviously every team’s ambition. It’s a new league, higher level and very demanding. It is important that the players continue to stay united throughout, disciplined and professional in every aspect in order to achieve what we want, which is winning the league.
Your media presence is also highly impressive, what advice can you give to other teams?
Just try get as much content and information out there for the public to see and recognize what your club is about. It’s hard work but it certainly pays off.
With the recent announcement of Hollywood bets as the new sponsors of the SAFA National Women’s League – now known as Hollywood bets Super League, what are your thoughts?
“Any company that comes on board to sponsor women’s football will always be welcome in my books, because this is long overdue. Women’s football is one of the fastest growing sports globally and it is good that companies are realising that. Having said that, so I am extremely excited about the announcement of Hollywood bets backing the women’s game in South Africa – this is a significant and groundbreaking move.
I have long held the view that when due recognition is given to the game, through sponsorships, these can help leverage equal visibility within the sport. This is not just good for the sponsors themselves but also for the players as an initiative like this can help drive further female participation into the game, which will benefit the quality of the league as well as our National teams tremendously.
You last featured for Banyana Banyana in August 2019 in the COSAFA Cup, do you miss the national team action?
Yes, I have most certainly missed being in action with the National Team. Things have been rough between Covid-19 and being injured, but I can’t wait to return and represent my country again.
Banyana Banyana has perhaps the biggest contingent of players abroad for the first time ever – how significant is this?
It’s amazing to see so many South Africans playing and gaining experience abroad. This will add tremendous value to the National squad, but it is also a platform that creates opportunity for the young talent coming through in the country when some of the overseas-based players are not available.
We (Banyana Banyana) have been drawn against Mozambique in the first round of the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers (AWCON) – which serve as the 2023 World Cup qualifiers: your thoughts on importance of the clash against Mozambique.
Every qualifying match we play will be an extremely important one. We can’t take any opponent lightly or underestimate the quality. We have to go into the qualifying campaign with full and complete focus to get us to the last match that will have us qualify for the World Cup the second time.
We now have a larger AWCON of 12 teams (increased from 8) but still serves as a World Cup qualifier – your take on the new format and South Africa’s chances?
It’s good that there are more teams coming through to make the competition a little more challenging, but also to give more countries an opportunity to strive to become Africa’s best and get to represent the continent at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Unfortunately, one between Ghana and Nigeria will miss out on both the AWCON and the FIFA Women’s World Cup – your thoughts?
It’s such a shock that these two powerhouses in African football have to battle it out for a spot in the 2022 AWCON. For many years these two nations have been the toughest opponents to play against and it is a shame that one of them won’t be part of the most important tournament in Africa, and, by extension, the biggest stage of women’s football, the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Full name Janine van Wyk
Date of birth 17 April 1987 (age 34)
Place of birth Alberton, South Africa
Height 164 cm (5 ft 5 in)
Current team Glasgow City
Springs Home Sweepers
Scaw Metals F.C
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Palace Super Falcons
2017–2018 Houston Dash
2019–2020 Fortuna Hjørring
2020– Glasgow City