Amogelang Motau

Head­ing to the USA to ful­fil her dreams – on and off the pitch

Kick Off - - INSIDE - BY SIBU­SISO MJIKELISO Twit­ter: @Sbu_Mjike­liso

Amogelang Motau is an af­fa­ble young pro­fes­sional. She car­ries her­self with the kind of as­sured­ness and grace that is fit­ting of a for­mer ju­nior na­tional team cap­tain. Her friend­li­ness be­lies her stature as one of the coun­try’s ris­ing stars. In June she made the ef­fort to meet KICK OFF in Johannesburg to par­tic­i­pate in one of the mag­a­zine’s most in­no­va­tive fea­tures yet, a train­ing rou­tine with pop­u­lar soap star Hlubi Mboya. She went a step fur­ther and shared with us her jour­ney into foot­balling star­dom, which has seen her cap­tain the SA Un­der-20 and Un­der-17 teams. Her hum­ble be­gin­nings not­with­stand­ing, she has pulled her­self up from the prover­bial dusty streets of Lim­popo to Oral Roberts Univer­sity in the USA.

The USA op­por­tu­nity, she says,

came about through a re­fer­ral of friend Nelly Mam­abolo, who plays for Oral Roberts Univer­sity. “They asked her [Mam­abolo] about a player they might sign from South Africa and she rec­om­mended me, us­ing my track record of hav­ing rep­re­sented the na­tional team at var­i­ous lev­els from Un­der-17 and Un­der-20 to the na­tional team,” says Motau. “I sent them my clips of me play­ing and they were im­pressed and gave me a schol­ar­ship.” Motau can play as a mid­field No. 8 or No. 10, even on the wing, and her big­gest strength is her ver­sa­til­ity in var­i­ous roles in­side the en­gine room. Her rise to the top of the game

came about in sim­i­lar fash­ion as most women foot­ballers in that she had to rough it out against boys in her early years of her de­vel­op­ment be­fore find­ing a girls’ team. “The funny thing is that no­body in my fam­ily plays foot­ball,” Motau says. “I have two broth­ers and one sis­ter and both my broth­ers aren’t into foot­ball at all. “The only time they watch is when I’m play­ing. But I grew up in a neigh­bour­hood where my neigh­bours were pre­dom­i­nantly boys, es­pe­cially ones my age. So they be­came my friends. “As we started play­ing I just started get­ting bet­ter than them. Just by play­ing ev­ery­day af­ter school, I got so much bet­ter.”

An en­try into the pres­ti­gious

Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria High Per­for­mance Cen­tre ( Tuks HPC) was the spring­board she needed to take her ca­reer to the next level. “I was in­tro­duced to women’s foot­ball at the age of around 10,” the 20-year-old says. Some­one saw me play­ing and asked me to join their team, Kanatla FC, who played in the Absa Women’s League – a de­vel­op­ment tour­na­ment. “At around 11 or 12 I got in­tro­duced to the Sa­sol League when Kanatla moved to Polok­wane. From there I went to Johannesburg for tri­als and ended up at the Tuks HPC. “I am the foot­baller I am to­day be­cause of Ch­eryl Botes. She coached me from a young age, at the HPC, and taught me to leave all the bad habits.”

USA has pro­duced some of the

most no­table and tal­ented women’s foot­ballers the world has ever seen such as Mia Hamm and Abby Wam­bach. They con­tinue to be up there with the favourites when­ever the Fifa Women’s World Cup comes around. And hav­ing South African play­ers ply their trade there could have the same ef­fect for the coun­try’s women’s foot­ball de­vel­op­ment as Europe has in the men’s. She says: “I know I’ve made it into the Banyana team but for me it is not the max­i­mum of my suc­cess. “It was a goal that I set from a young age. But I’m still work­ing to­wards big­ger goals. One of those goals is to cap­tain Banyana. “The other is go­ing to the World Cup. I failed so many times to do so with the ju­nior na­tional teams and I would love to ex­pe­ri­ence it.”

In 2016, at just 19, she was part of

the na­tional team squad that went to Yaoundé, Cameroon, where South Africa lost the third-place play­off to Ghana 1-0 af­ter los­ing by the same nar­row mar­gin to Nige­ria in the semi­fi­nals. In spite of fall­ing just short of an his­toric achieve­ment, Motau said be­ing part of the tour­na­ment was a god­send for her. “I prob­a­bly learnt more from the weeks spent there than I did in the five years at HPC,” she says. “It was life-chang­ing, not only on the field. I learnt about team dy­nam­ics and I got to know how things are done at the high­est level. Even though I didn’t get a lot of game time I learnt a whole lot “I was watch­ing ev­ery­thing that Ja­nine [ Van Wyk] was do­ing and what the other ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers were do­ing. The in­ten­sity at in­ter­na­tional level is so much higher [than do­mes­tic level] but in Cameroon I got bet­ter in terms of ad­just­ment. I was a much bet­ter player by the end of the tour­na­ment.”

“THE FUNNY THING IS THAT NO­BODY IN MY FAM­ILY PLAYS FOOT­BALL.”

(Main) Amogelang Motau in Johannesburg a few months be­fore her dream move to the Oral Roberts Univer­sity in the USA.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.