3 min read



September 15, 2023

By First For Women

THE BOYS CLUB can’t take my fearless

At the age of six, Janine van Wyk fell in love with football. The other girls preferred hockey and netball but Janine had her sights set on the typically male-dominated sport. As a teenager, Janine joined a football team in KwaThema. There she was spotted by a former technical director of the South African Football Association, who invited Janine to enrol in a high-performance programme in Pretoria.


“The boarding-school environment was tough. I was homesick and couldn’t cope. I only stayed there for six months because I needed my family with me,” says Janine.


She kept playing football though, hoping that one day she’d earn her a place in the national side. “Nothing worth having comes easy and I worked hard to make my dream a reality,” says Janine.


In 2005, Janine made her debut for South Africa in the African Women’s Championship and in 2013, she was appointed Captain of Banyana Banyana and became the first Captain in history to lead South Africa at a Women’s World Cup. She is now the highest capped soccer player in South Africa (male or female) with 183 appearances, and highest capped female in the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF).


Despite not making the squad for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup due to an injury, Janine says she’s not read to hang up her boots just yet. “I have an important record to break - to be the most capped player on the African continent, male or female.”


There’s no doubt that she will achieve her goal because Janine is fearless.


“I believe in living a life that’s free of the fear of judgement, the fear of criticism and the fear of not being enough. And when fear does creep in, I confront it and fight back against it. I believe that women have an inner strength and are able to accomplish anything we put our minds to. Be yourself, be a leader, be courageous and strong, take risks and trust that you can achieve anything you want,” says Janine.


This is the wisdom that Janine is imparting to future football stars in JVW FC – a football club that she co-founded in 2013.


“JVW FC was born because I wanted to see a change and I wanted to be the change. The core principle of the dream was to create opportunities for girls of all ages to play football in a comfortable environment, where each player is encouraged and motivated to participate and give their best according to their ability.


“When I was younger, there were many times when I felt isolated and not part of the team because I am a woman. There have been so many barriers but I have continuously let my passion and my love of the game shine through.”

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