Five of their players were with Banyana Banyana in West Africa – captain Janine van Wyk, goalkeeper Yolula Tsawe, midfielders Linda Motlhalo, Mamello Makhabane and Nompumelelo Nyandeni, while Amanda Dlamini missed out on the continental women’s soccer showpiece.
At the time, the club consisted of only 13 players and has grown over the years to a remarkable 60 players made up of a Sasol League Team, Reserve Team and a Development team.
In just four years, they have climbed the ladder of success and are now the 2016 Gauteng Sasol League Champions.
It was not an easy journey, as they had to compete against three-time SASOL League Champions, Palace Super Falcons, defending champions, Mamelodi Sundowns and other long-established teams in their stream.
They remain unbeaten at home in 2016 – a big achievement by any means.
Writing on their website the club had this to say:
“JVW had to work extremely hard to secure a top spot. Having lost one game and drawn another, we managed to beat top adversaries Sundowns, Falcons and Croesus all in the same year, and remained undefeated at home in 2016. Throughout the years, and since JVW was first introduced into the SASOL League, the First Team has progressively climbed up the ranks year after year proving that with time, patience and continuous resilience, anything is possible - we remarkably finished first in the stream ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns on goal difference. The dream has now become even more palpable after JVW beat Tuks FC 6-0 at the provincial playoffs to determine the Gauteng Champions. This game was a stern representation of zeal and unmistakable presence that JVW wants to showcase to the rest of the country, that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Speaking before the start of the Sasol National Championship, team manager Lauren Duncan was optimistic of her side’s chances in the tournament.
She said this on their website:
“We have finally reached our goal of being crowned Gauteng Champions and it’s an achievement we are definitely proud of. As we step onto the next platform with an overwhelming desire to do the best that we can, our first mission is, and always will be, a united team working together towards a common goal. It has been a remarkable journey thus far, and I am certain that we have what it takes to get Gold,” said Duncan.
In Mosselbaai they were also drawn in the group of death where they had to take on the tough Durban Ladies (KwaZulu Natal) and UWC (Western Cape) to get to the semi-finals.
In a hotly contested and star-studded match against UWC – who also boast some of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana players, they were made to sweat for their 3-2 victory.
They followed it up with another hard-earned 1-0 win over Durban Ladies.
Van Wyk knew things were not going to be easy for her side.
“We are well aware of how many teams want to beat us in the Sasol League National Championship because of the squad we have, and we are highly alert. The teams will come at us and we have to up our level and be stronger. The group of players we have showed a lot of character and, despite being kicked and rough played, we still managed to get a good result. That says a lot about the team. The league is for anyone to win, each and every team has a good chance to win it,” said Van Wyk.
“We didn’t sit down and set an aim that we need to win this, this is our first time being here, so it’s the first time for some of the girls to experience such a tournament. For us it is all about getting all the experience we can get and pushing hard as much as we can, take it step by step and see how far we can go – not to say we don’t want to win the trophy because that is the main reason everyone is here, if we don’t this time we will try again next time.”
Regardless of where they finish at the Sasol League National Championship, JVW has come a long way and achieved more in a short period of time. What makes the feat more remarkable is that during the season most of their players from Banyana Banyana were in the national team camp, and the remaining players had to hold the fort.
“That says a lot about our team – they are disciplined and have so much passion and love for the sport that it didn’t get into their heads at all that the national team players were gone for so long so many times this year. One minute you are playing for your team, the next your team has to wait for the national team players to get back in order to continue with the league matches, so it took a lot of toll on them but they showed great character when we did play that they are hungry to play football, they are hungry to win and I am just really proud of each one of them,” added Van Wyk.
“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think we would have won today (against UWC) because they are the ones that lifted us national team players, and when they welcomed us with such enthusiasm and excitement into the team before the start of this tournament, it just brought a whole kind of new and different energy to the national team players so I am really happy with the group of players that we have and how far we have come as a club.”
JVW will face Coal City Wizzards in the semi-final of the 2016 Sasol League National Championship on Friday, 9 December while the other semi-final will be contested by Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies and Kanatla Ladies.
Both matches kickoff at 16h30.
City Lads Ladies will take on Durban Ladies in the 5th/6th Place Play-off. Golden Ladies will lock horns with UWC in the 7th/8th Place Play-off.
Those matches will also be played on Friday, with an earlier kickoff of 14h00.