Cape Town - Banyana Banyana’s Noxolo Cesane, Hilda Magaia and Bongeka Gamede were among the new players who joined the team at their first 2020 Olympic qualifier games against Botswana.
The two nations played the first-leg clash last week Friday in Gaborone, and second-leg back home at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday, September 2.
Born and raised in Limpopo, Hilda Magaia's first call up to Banyana Banyana was in 2018 at the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Lesotho. Although she was nervous, Hilda was also excited to join the team and play with the likes of Refiloe Jane, who she looks up to.
"I had mixed emotions when I received my first call up, I was nervous but told myself that I’m going to go there and do what they called me for," she said.
Before finding a team in her area, Hilda used to travel two hours from her home in Dennilton to Mamelodi three times a week, so she could practice with her team.
"I would get home around 1am which was a big challenge but I kept pushing because I had a passion for football and saw myself going far. Playing in the Sasol League has made me a better player.
"I used to play in a league where I could kick the ball from one pole to another but once I joined the Sasol League I was forced to work harder as the teams where more challenging and competitive.” she concluded.
Bongeka Gamede who joined Banyana Banyana this year, played her first cap during South Africa’s friendly match against Norway. Gamede has settled well with the team, but admits that at first there were some challenges.
"The biggest challenge for me was the thought of training and being in the same team as the senior players, but once I started training with them I realised that in football it’s not about how old you are or how long you have been playing, you just have to work hard and be dedicated," she said.
Growing up in Ixopo Kwa-Zulu Natal, Bongeka’s greatest challenge was that there were no women's teams in her community so she always played with her brothers and other boys. She became exposed to women’s football and teams when she joined the Sasol League, playing for the University of Western Cape.
Noxolo Cesane got her first call up to Banyana Banyana during this year’s COSAFA Women’s Championship. Fast and fearless, Noxolo quickly became a favourite for the Nelson Mandela Bay crowd after scoring her first goal at the tournament. Cesane started playing football at the age of 6 and was inspired by her brother who played for a PSL team. She then went on to join the Sasol League playing for Cape Town Roses at the age of 11.
"Playing in the Sasol League brought me confidence, I always wanted to help my team win but above that I would always strive for more achievements such as winning Diski Queen or player of the match. I always looked at how I can do more to stand out and I believe that’s what being Limitless is all about, being able and willing to do more. It’s important to believe and never give up on yourself," she added.