By Mark Etheridge
Banyana national women’s football captain, Janine van Wyk is heading stateside on the next leg of a stellar career.
Van Wyk who has represented South Africa at two Olympic Games, in London four years ago and most recently in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil earlier this year, is joining the Houston Dash in Texas.
Currently playing for her own side, JVW in the Sasol National Women’s League, Van Wyk has more than 140 national caps with Banyana and was one of four finalists in the recent African Footballer of the Year awards.
The 29-year-old defender, the first South African to move from SA to play in the US, told the SASCOC website: ‘I’m super excited to go and play in the States. It’s a great opportunity for me to go showcase what South Africans and Africans as a whole are about.
‘We have so much talent in our country and I hope that I can open doors for my fellow South Africans. It’s something I’ve been dreaming and working hard for for my whole life and it’s a great feeling.’
Van Wyk’s fellow South African (although United States born) and Rio Olympian, Stephanie Malherbe also plays in Texas where she represents the Texas A&M Aggies women’s side.
‘The contract is for a year,’ says Van Wyk. ‘The standard of football is high which I’m excited about because I know it will just improve my game and knowledge even more… I haven’t met any of the players but I certainly know who they are and I’m excited to be playing alongside Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, both national team players.’
Said Houston Dash head coach Randy Waldrum: ‘I’m very excited that Janine will join the Dash in 2017. She was recently named as one of the four finalists for the African Footballer of the Year Award – that is the quality she brings to the team.’
‘Janine also brings a wealth of international experience to the club. I felt we had to address our central defending positions this off-season and add more experience and leadership, Janine certainly fills that need.”
And Banyana Banyana fans have nothing to worry about in terms of her national role. ‘No it won’t affect my availability for Banyana. As long as the games are in the FIFA dates calendar.’