Setback for Sarah Walker but she’s hopeful

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Sarah Walker’s trip to the United States of America (USA) will be delayed for about six months and she has also been ruled out for the remainder of the Hollywoodbets Super League season due to injury.

The JVW defender has missed the opportunity to get going with her first semester to resume with her academic year. The delay comes as a result of breaking a collar bone during a match in Tsakane against Coal City Wizards in the Super League.

“Just when I was vying for position of a loose ball, Nelisiwe Mchunu from Coal City Wizard – jersey number 8 – put pressure behind my back, I fell off and landed awkwardly on my shoulder and broke my collar bone – It was a painful experience,” Walker tells FARPost.

During the interview, she also confirmed that she will be embarking on her long-awaited trip to America to honour her scholarship at Wingate University in North Carolina.

The 19-year-old was injured just two days before she was booked to fly to the USA. Her Wingate University scholarship has been packaged with the privilege to play football at the University while studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Science – majoring in Finance and Political Science.

Thanks to her parents Nigel and Lara Walker, who connected her with the Atlantic recruiting agency having compiled for them a Sarah Walker football highlight reel, which got circulated amongst coaches in the US and eventually got forwarded to the University of Wingate. The video ended up securing her the highly ranked scholarship in America. It is monumental again to have another South African player to be in a position to grow their skills overseas.

“The American game is different to our style here, they place great emphasis on strength and fitness – which I am excited about because it will improve my game in its physicality,” added Walker.

The defender will need about half a year for a full recovery, however, that’s already far too late to get going with her first semester which started this month, resulting in the American University advising her to start in the next semester as it would be a challenge to catch up with the work she could have possibly missed. She will now leave for America in January 2022.

Walker made a great impact for JVW, having played for the Johannesburg team founded by Banyana Banyana star Janine Van Wyk since 2018, as a new recruit from their sister team JVW Randburg – where she won the Rand Central League Football Association Cup.

“I enjoy playing for JVW – I’ve experienced playing alongside my role models in the team,  Amanda Dlamini and Janine Van Wyk. They both inspire me, I’ve seen them grow and develop the women’s game on and off the field,” Walker stated.

The U20 South African Women’s team international is following in the good steps of her role models and has great potential to achieve what they have achieved in football, she is noted as one of the most disciplined young players at JVW – quite impressive with good tactical awareness and uniquely defensive abilities.

The JVW defender is such a promising player and has shared memorable experience with the Hollywoodbets Super League side, dating back from 2019 when the club secured the promotional playoffs to advance to the National Women’s League.

Walker has been a great example of what our club aims to achieve through the development of young players. Her last game against Coal City was a typical Sarah performance, giving 150% in the match to put her body on the line. “I truly admire her playing ability and stinging sense of humour,” said JVW head coach Ciara Picco.

The youngster is slowly becoming one of the most prolific players in the Hollywoodbets Super League. Her dedication to the women’s game has earned her great respect even amongst her peers. The rising star has been much impressed with the opportunities and exposure the Super League has provided in lifting up the women’s game, with high competitiveness and a step up from the Sasol League.

“There are few critiques I can make about the league, but it is also important to remember that this is only the second season, and a lot of things will take a long process to emerge within the league, however, the one aspect that requires immediate attention is securing more live broadcasting slots for the games,” explained Walker.

Walker believes that being on TV consistently will draw and encourage sponsors to support teams and individual players, as this will be integral in further developing the league on and off the field. In as much as she is advocating for the growth of the national women’s league, she has however been ruled out of it due to injury for the remainder of the season and hers is to support from off the pitch.

“It was a definite risk playing a match so close to leaving for America, but it goes to show my daughter’s commitment to her team. For her to sustain the injury during that game has been devastating more for her than it is for me,” said Nigel, Sarah’s father.

Sarah’s father believes she will come back stronger from this setback and will be ready for her trip to the USA in the next year. Nigel is quite impressed with all that his daughter has managed to achieve through playing football, and for her courage to want to use the combination of her passion for the game and academic abilities while leaving her dream in American.

The JVW defender hopes to join one of the top European teams preferably the Chelsea women’s team after completing her Degree with Wingate University after four years, or better yet return to South Africa to coach one of the women’s development teams.

RELATED STORYAmanda Dlamini: The girl who took on her dad at his own game

By Mpumi Manyisi