Thembi Kgatlana celebrates after scoring against Burkina Faso at Dobsonville Stadium in October. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Banyana Banyana midfielder, Thembi Kgatlana, is excited about her move to the United States of America where she will now play for Houston Dash after signing a one-year professional contract with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Kgatlana joins recent Dash signee, Linda Motlhalo – captain of the South African Under-20 women’s team (Basetsana) – who is also now on the books of the American outfit.

“I am super excited about my move to Dash. To be honest, I thought I was going to get a deal after the Rio Olympics in 2016, but nothing came my way – so here we are, two years later my dream is becoming a reality,” said Kgatlana.

“This move means a lot to me because I had to be patient for the past two years. I didn’t rush into taking a scholarship deal overseas as it has always been my dream to play professional football overseas.”

Also registered with the American club is the captain of the South African senior team, Janine van Wyk, who returns for her second season.

The thee players have been called up for the Banyana squad that will play in the Cyprus Women’s Cup, which runs from February 28 to March 7 – and they will leave for the USA straight after the tournament.

Kgatlana adds that the move for all the three players augurs well for women’s football in South Africa.

“The signing of Janine, Linda and now myself, is a clear indication that women’s football is going in the right direction in this country, and we are clearly being recognised around the world.

"We also have several players in colleges abroad, so this is just exciting times to be a woman footballer in South Africa,” added the player known also as Pikinini.

“It would be nice to have more players overseas as this will benefit the country even more. I know we have a lot of talented players who should already be playing there, but I am confident with time, this will happen.”

The forward is happy to be reunited with former Banyana coach Vera Pauw.

“I can never express my gratitude enough for Vera as she has shown a lot of confidence in me by recruiting me to a team she has just joined. The only way I can repay her would be do well, not just for myself but for the entire country.

"We must see this mission as being that of ambassadors, because if we do well, this will open doors for many more players from South Africa, and in turn this will make Banyana Banyana and all the other national teams stronger,” said Kgatlana.

African News Agency (ANA)

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