UJ trio speak on maiden COSAFA Cup experience, first caps for Banyana Banyana
Following their silver medal win in the 2022 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) trio Refilwe Maseko, Dineo Magagula, and Sphumelele Shamase, shared their experiences about the tournament and getting their maiden caps for Banyana Banyana.
On their overall experience in the Cosafa Cup:
“COSAFA was a wonderful experience. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I learned a lot as a player, and the position I was playing in the senior National team exposed me to a lot of positive things. My teammates and the technical team were wonderful. We supported each other and belived in our abilities as a team. It’s an experience I’ll cherish for a long time as an athlete,” said Maseko, the UJ senior women’s captain.
Fellow teammate Sphumelele Shamase said that participating in the tournament gave her pride and great lessons from various people in the South African team and the other participating teams.
“Playing for Banyana Banyana for the first time in COSAFA was the greatest experience any football player can ask for. Initially, I was nervous, but after my first clean sheet, everything started to feel good,” said goalkeeper, Dineo Magagula who did not concede a goal on her debut for Banyana Banyana.
On the lessons acquired while playing for Banyana Banyana:
“I discovered that each person creates their own luck. The most important thing is to always believe in myself and my abilities – it all starts with me. To be in the national team, players need to be physically fit, match the intensity of the game, and simply play without overcomplicating things. It is also very important to be coachable and open to learning every day – that is the best way to improve,” added Maseko, who comes from Kagiso, west of Johannesburg.
Shamase, who grew up in Waterloo in KwaZulu-Natal Province, played for the Under-17 and Under-20 national teams. For her, playing in the COSAFA tournament has taught her that a footballer must constantly be growing in the sport and their ability to play at higher levels. “The biggest lesson for me was getting out of my comfort zone and experiencing new things. Playing for the national junior teams have aided my understanding of what’s required to represent the country at the senior football level,” explains Shamase.
Between the sticks, Banyana Banyana had their faith in goalkeeper Magagula. She was raised at Kgaphamadi, a small village in the Sekhukhune district of Limpopo Province. Magagula said it would be an honour to represent the senior women’s national football team on a regular basis.
“My objectives are to train harder and be able to balance soccer and my schoolwork. I need to be disciplined, continue having respect for other people and be open to learning in order to be a consistent Banyana player ” said Dineo Magagula.
Maseko is a versatile attacking footballer. Her objective is also to play regularly for Banyana Banyana in the coming years of her football career. “To be a regular, I am required to put in the effort. Going forward, I will use this experience to improve. I will be applying the tactics I have learned in the COSAFA tournament at UJ games. Asa footballer, one can never be too old or experienced to learn new things,” she added.
Sphumelele Shamase, a left winger and fellow attacker, stated: “My team and I want to win the remaining games so that we have a chance to finish in the top four. A regular Banyana player must also put in a lot of effort, be persistent, and maintain consistency.”
To the young girls who aspire to play for the national teams, Maseko shared the following message with them, “They must remain resolute in pursuing their goals. To be chosen to represent Banyana Banyana is difficult, and it is not something that is given on a silver platter. Many girls out there are vying for the same position as you. You raise your hand to be noticed via the daily effort you put in; the coaches don’t really choose you. No matter how talented you are, you need to work hard, be committed and passionate about football in order to make the team. The rest will take care of itself.”
Banyana Banyana lost 1-0 in the finals of the Cosafa Cup this past weekend and going forward, the trio are eager to earn more caps and become regulars in the national team set up.
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