Janine van Wyk, the epitome of football dedication and passion, recently etched her name in history, culminating her illustrious career as the most capped African footballer, male or female, in her 185th appearance for South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.
The football world erupted in applause following her record-breaking feat during Banyana Banyana’s remarkable 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso in the African Women’s Cup Of Nations qualifier, an achievement celebrated widely across social media platforms.
One of her most influential mentors, Vera Pauw, former Banyana Banyana coach, took to social media to honour Janine’s extraordinary accomplishment, expressing, “Congratulations @Janinevanwyk5! The very last game of your career becoming the record holder of Africa; amazing, thrilling and so well deserved! Huge respect for @descaptain to make this milestone happen!”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup account also paid homage to Van Wyk, describing her as an icon and a legend of the women’s game, stating, “Iconic South Africa’s Janine van Wyk hangs up her boots, retiring a legend of the women’s game.”
In an emotional interview with Lonwabo Nkohla on SABC Sport immediately after the momentous match, Van Wyk, also a #GAL2023 recipient at the gsport Annual List of Newsmakers event, shared her elation and mixed emotions about bidding farewell to the sport that has been her life’s passion.
“I am absolutely over the moon right now. I am excited! Bit of mixed emotions, you know, leaving the game, it’s not really easy leaving something that you love and you have been doing for your whole life… and now it’s just transitioning into the next chapter,” said Van Wyk.
Reflecting on her journey, she added, “This has just been the cherry on top of the cake for me and a great fulfilment of a lengthy career.”
Van Wyk, known for her resilience and dedication, emphasised the essence of perseverance in the face of adversity, stating, “Nothing worth having comes easy. If you really want to be professional, you have really got to work for it.”
As she looks toward the future, Van Wyk spoke with enthusiasm about embracing family time after years of commitment to the sport. She hinted at a continued involvement in football, possibly in a coaching capacity, singling an exciting new chapter in her extraordinary journey.
Janine van Wyk’s legacy transcends the records she’s set; it stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment, resilience, and inspiration to aspiring athletes worldwide.