Mbane has the juice!
Winning the 2016 Sasol League National Championships has elevated Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies’ status. Celtic have always dominated the Free State in the Sasol League, they have represented the province at the nationals every single year since 2009, but winning their first national title in Mossel Bay last year has made the club’s management sit up and take notice. Defender, Bambanani ‘Juice’ Mbane, says they are now treated better by Siwelele management and feel respected like the men’s team.
“The support and treatment we get is now the same as the one the first and development teams. They treat us like one thing now. The support that the management is giving us is urging us to work harder so we can go defend our title at the playoffs and we will be rewarded after,” she says.
With four matches remaining, Phunya Sele Sele top the log on nine points and are on the verge of winning yet another provincial league title. Juice understands that the pressure is on them to defend their national title which will be contested in December in Nelspruit.
Aside from playing a starring role for her club, Mbane has been a key member of the senior women’s national team since making her debut in the Women’s Afcon qualifier against Botswana last April. Banyana Banyana won that match at the Makhulong Stadium 3-0 and Mbane came on as a substitute for veteran Noko Matlou. Since then Matlou has struggled to displace Mbane. Juice has cemented her place in the defence and even won several player of the match awards including one in the final of the COSAFA Women’s Championship against Zimbabwe which Banyana won.
Despite all the accolades, Mbane is taking nothing for granted. She says she has to continue working hard in each national game in order to keep her position in the team.
“No one owns a position in Banyana, you have to work hard and fight for your position in the team. It also helps the whole team, for players to individuals. I think you have to improve at every camp. The competition is quite tight, you shouldn’t compare who you play with but you have to personally push yourself,” she tells.