Home Sport It was never about accolades, but Van Wyk happy to bow out...

It was never about accolades, but Van Wyk happy to bow out on a high

133

Janine Van Wyk made her 185th appearance for Banyana Banyana in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burkina Faso on Monday, and made history in doing so.

Janine Van Wyk of South Africa takes a bow for the last time during the 2024 WAFCON Qualifier between South Africa and Burkina Faso at Lucas Moripe Stadium 6 in Atteridgeville on the 04 December 2023,. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Never in her wildest dreams, as a young player, did Janine van Wyk think she’d be among the highest capped international players in Africa – let alone hold that record.

Van Wyk made her 185th appearance for Banyana Banyana in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burkina Faso on Monday, and made history in doing so.

It was a befitting record-breaking swansong for Van Wyk, who’s retiring from football, as Banyana beat the Stallions 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate) to qualify for the finals in Morocco next year.

Van Wyk was also glad that Banyana will return to the biennial showpiece where they’ll defend their African crown.

“Today wouldn’t be joyful without a win and qualifying for another Wafcon,” she said.

“But it wasn’t about me today. Yes, we celebrate the 185th cap but we had a very important game to play. Congratulations to the team and we wish them well for the next Wafcon out in Morocco as they look to defend another title for the nation.

“But overall, this has been a cherry on top of the cake after a lengthy career for me. It’s a great fulfilment for me to reach this milestone. So what better way to do it than with the national team?”

In a continent where women’s football is starting to develop, it’s a real achievement for a woman to break Ahmed Hassan’s record (of 184 matches for Egyptian men’s national team) after 11 years.

And add to that the fact that this record was broken by someone who only wanted to play football for the passion of the game without looking at the rewards that come with it.

“What has kept me going is the passion for this game,” Van Wyk said.

“If people were to ask players to raise their hands if they were to play without getting paid, I would also raise my hand. It’s not about the money but the love I have for the game.

“Even when I started out at a young age, I didn’t think that I’d make a career out of it.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d become one of the highest capped international players in Africa. Every achievement for me at a young age was a direction into the next.”

Van Wyk leaves the stage as not only the highest capped player in Africa but with other achievements that included winning Wafcon and playing in two Olympic Games and one World Cup.

But while she’s thrilled with the transformation of women’s football in the country, which includes the inception of a semi-professional league, the Super League, she feels a lot more could still be done.

“It’s been amazing to see the transformation of women’s football unfold. A lot has happened and a lot of investment has been made in women’s football,” Van Wyk said.

“People could see that women’s football is the fastest growing sport right now. A lot of investment has been made worldwide, although I think South Africa is still some steps behind.”

Van Wyk will venture into coaching now that she’s officially hung up her boots after a glittering 18-year international career.

Banyana coach Desiree Ellis wished her well for the journey ahead.

“It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person. Good luck and welcome. It won’t be easy. Hopefully your coaching career will be as successful as your playing one,” Ellis said.

Previous articleMalema and Shivambu to miss Sona after being banned
Next articleWoman gets 15 years for brutal murder of twin sister, chopping up body with axe