DURBAN – Banyana Banyana defender Noko Matlou will be running on the field on Sunday for her 150th appearance for the national team when they take on Jamaica in a friendly match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium (start at 3pm).
Malou has had an impressive career and was the first South African footballer to receive a Caf Women’s Player of the Year award in 2008.
She also got that same honour from the South African Football Association (Safa). Another highlight was being voted SA Sportswomen of the Year in 2012.
Matlou’s achievement of 150 games comes hot on the heels of Banyana captain Janine van Wyk, who is now 164 – making Matlou the second footballer in the country to reach this milestone.
Growing up in Moletjie, Limpopo, the defender was originally interested in athletics and only started pursuing football at the age of 13.
With the support of her coaches, she continued playing football and eventually received her first call-up to Banyana Banyana at the age of 22.
Today she continues to inspire young women footballers who look up to her.
"Since I started playing football, I’ve always wondered what kind of player I would be, how many caps I would reach and how long I would play for the national team.
"I’m so grateful to be counted among the most-capped footballers in South Africa. It hasn’t been an easy journey getting to where I am, but it has definitely been rewarding,” she said.
Famously known as Beep-Beep for her speed, Noko Matlou joined the Sasol League during its inception in 2009. She admits that being in the league has played a huge role in her growth as a Banyana Banyana player.
“The Sasol League has definitely played a role in my football career. It’s refreshing to compete against different players and also keep check of your competitiveness. You also come across new players with new skills, we all learn from each other,” added Matlou.
“Being a footballer, maintaining your health and renewing your skills is not always easy. That is why I always try and motivate new players to dream big, believe in themselves and work hard.”
"Being part of Banyana Banyana for so long has also contributed significantly to my growth as a footballer. I’m grateful to Sasol and Safa for the role they have played in making sure that we compete in tournaments and play international friendlies,” Matlou added.
She has been part of Banyana Banyana for more than 11 years with several achievements under her belt, and reaching the Fifa Women’s World Cup is a culmination of a stellar career.
“I think Banyana Banyana’s first participation at the 2019 Women’s Cup will open doors for South African players because it definitely adds value and experience to the team.
"There is a lot at stake and I think it’s up to each player to make this opportunity count. Some of us, and those who were there before us, have been waiting for so long for this moment.
For their final game on home soil ahead of the global football showpiece, Banyana's match against Jamaica will be the first meeting between the two nations.
African News Agency (ANA)