The USSA Women’s Football team will be boosted by the presence of five Banyana Banyana players when they head to the 30th Summer Universiade in Italy in July.
The national players named in the 20-women squad are goalkeeper Mapaseka Mpuru, defender Bongeka Gamede, midfielders Kholosa Biyana and Ongeziwe Ndlangisa as well as forward Amanda Mthandi. They are all currently in France at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (Ndlangisa as a standby player), as is Thinasonke Mbuli who will be the head coach of the student team.
The six members were congratulated by Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis (who Mbuli assists) for their selection.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the five players who will be going to Italy with the USSA squad,” Ellis told SAFA.net. “Our hope is that they will learn a lot here at the World Cup and impart that knowledge when they play in Napoli, otherwise being in France would have been a futile exercise.”
While UKZN student Kholosa Biyana, who will captain the student team, has been in and around the Banyana Banyana squad since 2017 the three other full squad members used last year’s Varsity Football tournament to enhance their claims on national places.
Bongeka Gamede was rock solid in helping UWC reach the 2018 final (which they lost 2-1 to TUT) and ended up being named Player of the Tournament. Similarly, Amanda Mthandi’s free-scoring exploits for UJ helped her claim the Striker of the Tournament award. Meanwhile, Mapaseka Mpuru’s efforts in goal for UP-Tuks helped her force her way back into national reckoning after two years in the wilderness which she expanded on in a wide-ranging pre-World Cup interview.
Ellis was keen to remind her student players about what could be achieved if they stood the course.
“What makes us proud is that these are young players, most certainly the future of Banyana Banyana and the more higher competition they play the better players they will become, which in return will help the national team. I look at the likes of Fifi (Refiloe Jane) who went through the same journey and is now a regular in the Banyana Banyana squad. Good luck to the players.”
The football tournament at the Summer Universiade will take place between 2-13 July. Team South Africa will be one of 12 nations aiming to win gold following the final.
Full USSA Women’s Squad (2018 Varsity Football players in bold): Kholosa Biyana (UKZN), Bongeka Gamede, Molatelo Kobo, Nolubabalo Sishuba, Khanya Xesi (all UWC), Gabonnelwe Kekana, Hildah Magaia, Lerato Williams (all TUT), Thato Letsoso, Dineo Magagula, Karabo Makhurubetshi, Refilwe Maseko, Amanda Mthandi, Boitumelo Rasehlo (all UJ), Nelly Mamabolo (Oral Roberts University, USA), Morongwa Manamela, Mapaseka Mpuru, Meagan Newman, Thalea Smidt (all UP-Tuks), Ongeziwe Ndlangisa (DUT).
Technical staff: Thinasonke Mbuli (Head coach), Jabulile Baloyi (Assistant coach), Nadia Kroll (Team leader).