The JVW School league has had a life time impact on me as an individual and as a female footballer penetrating into a male dominated industry. I was fortunate enough to be part of the growing Schools League that Janine van Wyk created when it first started. 

Beginning in 2012 when the JVW Girls School League was launched, I was just 14 years old and it was my first year playing football ever. I have always had a love for football, but never really had the platform to play as none of the schools I attended had football for girls and I wasn’t really familiar with club football. By the grace of God my first year in, we had what we called a “professional” league because we had nothing else. The school league began with other school such as Petit high, Shangri-La high and Edenvale High just to name a few. The league went on but there wasn’t much interaction until we all had to play (fight) our way into what was known as JVW stars team – this team was a combination of the top 20 players from all schools that participated in the school league, and I made the team.

Becoming a JVW star we had to go through a series of trials where your football abilities we broken down and tested. This brought the girls together. Beyond the competition more laughs and tears were shared. The trials created relationships so when we played league matches we were all already friends. Playing for my school team, Norkem Park my whole high school career made me a better player as there was always consistency and a goal to achieve. I was nominated for the JVW Girls School league player of the year on two accounts which showed me that I have more talent than I thought I did.

The paths we go through growing up help us meet different individuals who the help you reach bigger and brighter heights. Being only 16 years old I was able to play for a University of Pretoria football team at club level. Football became so much of a priority and took up a big part of my life that I gave it my all. At one point I would train at school with the female team, go train with males at the club I played for before training with the female club team to make myself a better player. Moving to Tshwane university of Pretoria after I matriculated and playing football for the team, I have been part of the University Varsity cup twice and have won on both occasions. I never thought I would play football on live television, but one of my dreams definitely came true. I have also played in a tournament in Spain and never did I ever think I would travel overseas because of football and I wouldn’t trade the opportunity and memory for anything.

The joy the JVW Girls School League brings to many football loving girls is impeccable. This program isn’t only for fun but it teaches girls how to interact with one another and have a healthy competitive drive in them, teaches leadership and it also teaches a young girl to trust and believe in the talent that was given to her.

We often take things for granted and I will forever be grateful to Janine van Wyk and Lauren Duncan for the opportunities they to continue to give talented young girls like me. Football doesn’t only become a hobby but becomes a lifestyle.

Submitted by Mmabatho Dire – Former Norkem Park High and JVW Girls School League player