Nompumelelo Nyandeni: From Knee Injuries National Acclaim

A seasoned footballer and one of the most successful female players in South Africa, Nompumelelo Nyandeni has reached heights perceived as the unreachable in women's football. Photo: JVW Football Club (Website)

A seasoned footballer and one of the most successful female players in South Africa, has reached heights perceived as the unreachable in women’s football.

Nyandeni earned the Golden Boot award for the top goal scorer of the season in the recently concluded Hollywoodbets Super League, tied with Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies striker Andiswe Ngcoyi.

The 34-year-old netted 27 goals for JVW FC this season and helped the club finish in the top 5.

Nyandeni spent some time in Russia where she played for Russian Championship club WFC Rossiyanka, and made history when she became the first South African female footballer to have reached the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final. 

An injury during the peak of her career overseas did not stop Nyandeni from hanging up her boots. Upon her home return, Nyandeni joined JVW FC where she now continues to inspire young footballers.

Speaking with Faheedah Crouch, Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nyandeni talks about her experiences during her career as a female footballer.


Mpumi, Thank you so much for chatting with us! Please tell us a bit more about yourself.

I am Nompumelelo Nyandeni, I was born in Natalspruit, Gauteng. When I was three years old, my family and I relocated to Mpumalanga, and that is where I grew up.


Where does your love for football come from?

I would go to the field with my brother every time he had training and slowly I started playing with them and ever since then I have fallen in love with football.


You began your career playing for Detroit ladies of Mpumalanga before leaving South Africa to play for WFC Rossiyanka in Russia, What was the experience like playing for a big European club?

My time at WFC Rossiyanka was an experience that I will always be grateful for, it had not only taught me a lot off the field but also in the field. 

Football in Russia was extremely professional, you would eat soccer, sleep football and live football. 

I would say that my only setback would be that English was not really the language so spoken, and I also didn’t understand Russian, but this made me realise that I would have to learn the language to understand things a little better, other than the language barrier, I truly enjoyed my time at WFC Rossiyanka.


What was it like transitioning from the style of local football to the style played in Russia?

The transition for me would be the professionalism, and the direct play of football in Europe.


In 2011 you were selected by FIFA as one of the “11 for Health” campaign, and had the opportunity to work alongside the likes of some of the greatest football players of all time, What was the overall experience like?

It was an experience that I will never forget, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and when I was selected it has been an honour for me, because this was a realisation that my hard work was paying off, and it also proved to me that people were noticing my talent, and the cherry on top was that I had I gotten the opportunity to work alongside stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba.


You became the first South African woman to reach the quarter-final stage of the Uefa Women’s Champions League, what did that feel like at the time?

The mere fact that I was able to play UEFA and get to the quarter-final was absolutely mind-blowing. I never thought I would be able to stand there and listen to the UEFA intro song being played while I was preparing myself to go and play one of the biggest games of my life. 

The feeling is indescribable, but what I do know is that I was extremely proud of the efforts I had put into this sport I had fallen in love with, and I can also only say thank you to the Man above for blessing me with this talent.


You returned to Mzansi in 2014, what was the reason for your return?

The reason for my return was because I had, unfortunately, had picked up an injury and this had affected my playing, and I had sadly needed to make the decision to come back home.


You joined JVW in that same year, did you have the intention of continuing with your football career when you returned?

After picking up my injury and returning back home, I had honestly thought this was it and that I was going to retire from football.

A couple of months after being back home Coach Vera Pauw had contacted me and the next thing I knew I was in camp. I have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to Coach Vera, she really demonstrated an immense amount of patience with me. 

She pushed me to go through my rehab correctly with the national team, and there after I decided it was time to get back into playing, and the only club that ever came to mind was JVW, as I saw the future in JVW. 

This allowed me to share my experiences with the young talented players and to grow with JVW as well.


Who has been the greatest influence in your career?

My brother.


What are your thoughts around the gsport’s impact and support of women’s sport?

I believe that gsport has really impacted women in sport, by giving female athletes the platform to be recognised as well as their voices to be heard. They also allow women in sport the opportunity to showcase their talents and be given the mention that is deserved by all sportswomen.


Photo 1 caption: A seasoned footballer and one of the most successful female players in South Africa, Nompumelelo Nyandeni has reached heights perceived as the unreachable in women’s football. Photo: JVW Football Club (Website)


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