Edenvale High School U15 Head Coach Jordan van Der Linde, has bagged her third consecutive win in the JVW Girls School League, but her inspiring story is one that needs to be shared. Van Der Linde has progressed through the JVW Program, playing in the League’s debut year in 2012 and being chosen for the first ever JVW Stars, a team that was made up of the best players in the JVW Schools League in 2012. This team also featured JVW Administrator Indira Albuquerque and Nelisiwe Mchunu who made her Banyana Banyana Debut in 2013 after being scouted from the League and now plays for Coal City Wizards in the SAFA National League. Jordan then went on to play for the JVW Sasol League team before focusing on her career and becoming a league winning coach.

JVW Stars 2012

Take us back a few years to where your love for football began…

I started playing football as most girls my age did, playing with the boys during break until I was approached by Girlsport. I played in this club for around 3 years and that’s when I realised that football was more than just a sport, but my passion. I ventured out and played one season with the Edenvale Soccer boys U13 team and then moved onto to playing in the ELFA Girls league. Playing with the boys allowed me to test myself and that’s when I really started to take football seriously. The boys just have a way of making a girl try harder on the field. Football then bloomed for me into an everyday obsession to say the least.

Why did you stop playing?

Life become complicated. Following Matric, I started to work at Edenvale High and started studying through UNISA. My time was very limited and I needed to focus on my studies and my career. I miss it everyday, especially my team. Playing for JvW Seniors was more than just a bunch of girls that could kick a ball, we became a family. I still speak to many girls from my team and am strongly considering starting my football career again.

When did you decide to start coaching and how did it come about?

I always wanted to make an impact in young girls lives, that’s one of the reasons I became a teacher. After being coached by one of the most talented football legends around, Janine van Wyk, I always wanted to pass on the knowledge and passion that was graciously offered to me by her. When I started working at Edenvale, 4 years ago, I was gifted with the U15 team. Even with a rocky start each of the girls I have coached have become a part of me and helped me to become the coach I am today. I have no doubt that coaching football will always be something I strive towards.

Have you always wanted to be a coach?

I never saw myself as becoming a full blown coach, but after having my own team I realised that coaching is what I am driven to. The long hours of practices and intense games that I have witnessed and been a part of, has made me want to do it again every year. Coaching is a tough job, I applaud any person who is able to take a bunch of girls and turn them into a team. I know it’s not easy from when I was a player and even now as a coach. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Playing in the JVW Girls School League both as a player and a coach, how do you think the league has benefitted girls football?

Starting off as a player, having a league in which each talented young girl can showcase their talent is indescribable. I still remember the first day Janine (Van Wyk) came to watch one of our games, we were all terrified. Miraculously, this fear allowed me to push myself even harder which then convinced Janine that I was worthy to join her club. This feeling is one I am not able to describe. For a coach, having a league in which tough competition is always around the corner is the motivation that my team and myself need to work hard towards our goals. This league has opened many doors for a lot of my players and I am so grateful to have such a league for all the girls willing to learn.

Have you seen growth and more interest amongst girls over the years?

The growth and interest that women’s football has sparked is amazing. Just taking this year as an example, we started our trials for the team in late June and had a massive influx of girls wanting to play football (78 girls to be exact). This is not only astonishing but also so heart-warming to know that women’s football is on the rise and many people are taking notice. The other big event that created an impact was the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This tournament showcased the best of the best for women’s football. My team watched most games and were always in debates of who was the greatest. Much to the point that practice turned into USA vs South Africa when fun games were played. Another instance that opened my eyes to how much women’s football has grown is my favourite story from practices this year. We usually end off our practices with a small game where the girls test one another in a game situation. A player of mine scored a cracker of a goal and the celebrations began. Back in my day, when someone did something spectacular on the field we referenced many male football players to acknowledge their achievement. This year was different however, the girls started referencing Rapinoe, Lloyd, Morgan and van Wyk. This just shows that women’s football is starting to get the exposure it so greatly deserves.

Congratulations on winning the U15 JVW Girls League for the third consecutive year, what message would you like to give your team?

Firstly, I would just want to congratulate each of them for a wonderful season. Their dedication and hard work really paid off when came down to the games. Their support for one another and love for the game is inspiring. The team never gave up and fought hard until the final whistle blew for the end of the season. Secondly, I want to wish my girls moving up the best of luck. The Open league is very different from the U15 league. Competition is tougher. The girls are stronger and the kicks even harder. I know however they will do the best they possibly can and always continue to work hard. I am so grateful to have coached such a wonderful bunch of girls, they have crept into my heart and are there to stay. I wish them nothing but the best in their football careers and I hope to see many of them continue this adventure outside of the schools league.