Van Wyk: A leader, coach and club owner

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Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk has somehow managed to combine an elite playing career with founding, funding as well as running a top-level club, competing in the Sasol League.

The JVW Football Club with flourishing youth structure were crowned champions of the highly competitive Sasol League National Championships in 2019 and subsequently earned a spot to play in the newly established Safa National Women’s League (SNWL).

Despite having been formed just five years ago, JVW Girls have already won the national championships, produced several players for South Africa’s junior and senior national teams and they recently won the Sports Club of the Year accolade at the Ekurhuleni Women in Sports Awards for 2020 with head coach Ciara Picco walking away as the winner for Coach of the Year.

Van Wyk is furthering women’s football in South Africa through her own club and schools league.

“It dates back to 2012 really when I created a schools league (the JVW Girls Schools League, which is still thriving today). At that time, the only way for girls to play football was in boys’ teams,” said Van Wyk.

“And while there are benefits to playing with boys – I did it myself – it’s important for girls to have an environment where they feel like they belong, rather than sticking out.

“As it went on, I started seeing a lot of girls in this league with real talent who couldn’t pursue the game any further because there were so few clubs out there. It was seeing this talent going to waste that made me start JVW FC in 2015.

The Banyana captain bought a franchise in the Women’s League out of her own pocket with the little bit of money she has managed to make from playing overseas. The goal is to take talented youngsters and give them a pathway into senior football.

“We started with 13 players at the time and now have over 100, so that tells you how it’s gone since then. It’s grown enormously and we’ve already had JVW girls playing in the senior national team, as well as the U-17s and U-20s,” she added.

“That’s very satisfying. From what we started a few years ago, I can honestly say that it’s now one of the best women’s football clubs in South Africa and one of the best development structures on the entire continent.”

Given the demands of a professional playing career, and the dedication, focus needed to excel abroad and captain Banyana at a World Cup, it makes one wonder, how does Van Wyk cope?

“I’ve been hands on and directly involved since day one, and still am. But I obviously need people back home to help me run the club, and I have a really passionate staff who do that,” explained Banyana’s most-capped player.

“Even in that respect, we look to develop female talent; of all our staff, only one person – the goalkeeping coach – is male. But I’m still constantly in touch with them and very much involved in any big decisions that need to be made.”

The 33-year-old Glasgow City defender says she is looking forward to a future with the club that bears her initials, JVW.

“I try to get involved in all aspects of JVW, but my passion is the technical side of things, and that’s something I’d like to pursue more. I can’t ever see myself in a full-time office role – I’d miss the football pitch too much.

“I’ve done my coaching badges in South Africa, my CAF B Licence, and I’d like to do my UEFA Licence while I’m here in Scotland. That side of the game is definitely where I see my future, and I’d love to not only coach my club but also coach the national team at some stage.”

RELATED STORY: We are slowly closing the gap – Janine Van Wyk

By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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