JOHANNESBURG - Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk has recently returned from a six-month stint in the USA where she played for Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League.
With the season over, she is back home in South Africa while she contemplates her next move.
She last played for Banyana earlier this year in January against France in an international friendly match held at the Reunion Islands.
Van Wyk missed out on the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe last month, which Banyana won.
The defender has now been included in the upcoming international friendly match against Burkina Faso scheduled for Sunday, October 22, at Dobsonville Stadium (starts at 3pm).
To my Houston family.❤ pic.twitter.com/zDHaRIvS5P
Van Wyk spoke to SAFA.net about her experiences.
"It was phenomenal, it was an incredible experience for me being in America. I have always wanted to play overseas and I can finally say I have done so.
"It wasn’t an easy run in for me, in fact it was very difficult at the beginning but I think the best experience was playing professionally and getting a very big crowd every single game – the biggest crowd was at Portland Thorns in Portland with about 22 000 fans.
"That experience on its own was amazing, and is something that we can really hope that it will happen in South Africa once we have a professional league going. So many people can come to support women’s football in our country."
"You go out there and expect it to be a challenging and competitive football every single week, and that is exactly how it panned out. I got to play the world’s best players – I got to play alongside Carly Lloyd (Houston Dash, USA National Team) and it was amazing.
Feels good to be back in my beautiful Country 🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/8nx1LaQvUb
"It was really high level for me, it has helped me grow my game because every single week you played a very competitive match, and it makes you a fitter and stronger player.
"You also deal with different circumstances every week that you need to try and figure out, and that on it’s own grows you as a player.
Questioned about how different things were compared to South Africa, Van Wyk said: "It was really different than here in South Africa because in the Sasol League you sometimes you get very tough opposition then the next match it is not such a competitive game, or the level will not be as high.
"I feel that’s where your game can drop a little bit, when you play a team that is not physically strong and demanding and you end up taking it easy. But over there every match is very competitive, and that is what has grown me into a better player.
"For now that I am back, and I am really happy to be back. My priority and focus turn to Banyana Banyana, which I really missed playing for and unfortunately I was not able to go to the COSAFA Cup, but they did an incredible job and I would like to congratulate them on a fine performance. I always knew they would do well, get the gold and bring back the trophy.
"I have missed my team-mates in the National Team, my last game with them was against France in January in Reunion Islands. I will get to meet them soon and tell them all about my experiences."