Vilakazi wishes her mother was alive to see her 100 Banyana caps
Banyana Banyana defender, Nothando Vilakazi reckons supporters have to be understanding when the team struggles at some tournaments. Women’s football is not a professional sport in South Africa, which leads to many players having to balance their careers with playing sport. Some even decided to rather hang up their boots because it was just too difficult to play football and work simultaneously. Vivow believes Banyana have achieved a lot considering the lack of resources in women’s football. “It’s not easy, you find there are players who work and play at the same time. There isn’t any income in women’s football but you have to make sure that you do your best when you get to the national team. If you don’t give it your best, you know that there are hurtful comments that will come from South Africans which is unfair,” she says. Banyana have qualified for two Olympic Games, taken part in 11 consecutive Women’s Afcon since 1995 (finishing second four times) and they have now won the COSAFA Women’s Championship for a fourth time.
But even with all these achievements Vilakazi wonders if anyone takes notice of Banyana’s efforts to keep the South African flag flying high. “There’s so much that we are achieving but I often ask myself if no one sees what we are doing for women’s football? Or maybe people don’t take women’s football seriously,” she questions.
During the recent COSAFA Cup the Mpumalanga-born player joined an elite group of players who have made a century of appearances for Banyana. The right back made her debut in 2008 under then coach Augustine Makalakalane – a former Bafana international himself. Like many women footballers, Vivow started playing with boys. She started at Walter Stars, where Happy Jele, Mandla Masango and Golden Arrows’ midfielder, Jabulani Shongwe also played. The now defunct Walter Stars was sports personality, Walter Mokoena’s club. Although her mother was not pleased with her playing in a boys’ team, she supported her love for the sport.
“The challenge I had was that my mother didn’t like me playing with boys because we would travel and had to camp. She didn’t understand that. But most of the time when we went to camp, I would sleep separately, sometimes with Walter’s mother,” she explains. Vilakazi says she wishes her mother was still around to see her achievements.