The squad landed on Friday afternoon (12 August 2016).
The South African Women’s Olympic Team was knocked out of the competition following two losses and a draw against hosts Brazil.
The South Africans finished bottom of the group with just one point, but captain Janine van Wyk believes the players have grown over the last few months and will cherish the experience they got.
“It’s been an incredible experience for us. Since the London Olympic Games in 2012 this team has grown enormously in terms of our play. Who would have thought that we could give the best teams in the world a good run and a good game. It is rather unfortunate that we couldn’t progress to the next stage because we had it in us,” said Van Wyk.
“But sometimes when you don’t take the chances that you get, if you don’t use that one opportunity that you create against top teams it will cost you dearly, and that is exactly what happened. But we have grown as footballers, as indinviduals and whatever we have learnt from our coach is something we will cherish forever.”
In the last match against Brazil, Banyana Banyana came out to play but found a very strong opposition waiting. Solid defening and good goalkeeping saved the day for them.
“Who would have thought what we could be so competitive, especially against Brazil in their backyard. We put up a good fight and showed real character by coming out to play in this huge stadium with their fans behind them. At times it could be intimidating for other teams but we were not, and that is part of growing up we have done as a team,” added Van Wyk.
The South African Senior Women’s National Team skipper was impressed by the crowd attendance at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus – which was packed to the rafters to watch women’s football.
In the earlier match at the same venue was a clash between USA and Colombia.
“It is amazing to note that more and more people around the world are supporting women’s football, and it has got to this stage. We are hoping there will be more of this worldwide because I believe women’s football is probably the fastest growing sport at the moment,” said Van Wyk.
“It was incredible to experience such an atmosphere. The Brazilian supporters were great as they supported us in our other two games. We hope that young girls watching from anywhere could see that the sport is growing – so indeed it was it was an amazing feeling being in this packed stadium where women teams were playing.”
Banyana Banyana will now take a break after months of hard work, but they will soon be back in camp to prepare for the 2016 CAF African Women’s Championship, which will be played later this year (November) in Cameroon.