Banyana Banyana star Refiloe Jane has quickly made a name for herself as a hardworking defensive midfielder on her debut season in AC Milan colours with teammate and captain Valentina Giacinti describing her as “the orchestrator of the whole team”.
Jane made her competitive AC Milan debut back in September playing the full 90 minutes as the Italian giants beat Roma 3-0.
She has since become a key figure in the middle of the park for Milan featuring on a regular basis.
“Life in Italy has been going very well, no complains. It feels like I’m at home and everyone has welcomed me very well,” Jane told FARPost.
“When I started, my role in the AC Milan team was clearly explained on what I need to do, try and protect the defence, start play and just make the most of the opportunities that I get.
“With the support that I get from the Milan management, my teammates, it has made it easy for me to stay confident and do what I do best”.
The AC Milan Women’s team captain Giacinti spoke highly of Jane emphasising that she’s an important player for the team.
“Her way and style of playing is very vital for the team because she is the main point of reference in the middle of the field so everything goes around her, she is the orchestrator, she orchestrates the whole team.”
The 27-year-old became the first South African women’s player to feature in the Serie A Women’s League.
Affectionately known as ‘Fifi’, the former Canberra United and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) midfielder hosted her first young girls coaching and life skills clinic in Soweto recently with the assistance of Giacinti.
The coaching clinic was held at the same venue where former Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza spotted Jane playing in the Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto, Klipspruit in 2011.
The young girls in attendance went through a series of drills prepared by Jane and Giacinti and ended the day by playing a five-a-side football game.
“The coaching clinic and life skills that we had with the kids was a positive one, we got to see how excited they were that we are able to come give back to them. We got a feel of what the young players learned,” said Jane.
“We tried to get them to encourage one another because when it comes to football you want to have a teammate that’s got your back and also with the life skills we spoke about the importance of confidence, of overcoming the challenges we come across and also we emphasised the importance of having fun because they are at that age where they need to have fun and love what they do,” she added.
The Refiloe Jane Foundation was established in 2018 and the coaching clinic was the foundation’s first-ever event.
“There’s more coming up and we are going to visit different areas and try to touch as many lives as we can.
“The main purpose of the foundation is to raise holistic girls who are not only going to focus on sports but also on education, girls who are also going to be able to stand out in the crowd, stand for themselves, fight for themselves, fighting the circumstances that they come across.
“You know they (young girls) are at an age where they are easily influenced so once they are confident in what they do, try to stay away from substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and all those things,” concluded Jane.
Meanwhile, Giacinti said that her whole experience in South Africa has been a different but positive one that will help her grow as a person.
“The Jane Foundation brought positive experiences with regards to looking into the future and ideas to bring back to Italy as well. Help make more younger girls dreams come alive and with Jane being part of the AC Milan team, she’s obviously going to also assist with future generations in Italy,” added Giacinti.
By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi