JOHANNESBURG, February 2 – Banyana Banyana midfielder Linda Motlhalo has landed herself a one-year professional contract at Houston Dash in the United States of America in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Motlhalo, who is also the captain of the South African Under-20 women’s team, joins Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk at the US club.
The midfielder earned the contract following her strong performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she was part of the Banyana squad under Vera Pauw, who is now the head coach of Houston Dash.
“Linda is one of the most promising talents of women’s football at this moment. Her qualities compliment the talent we have on our roster. She will bring variety in our attack and that will bring the best out of the other players. She can balance our team,” said Pauw.
“This move will ensure that South African players start to get recognised. Linda deserves this next step in her career. She has proven herself at the Olympics in Rio on a global stage. This contract opens doors for the world of women’s football to get to know her.”
Motlhalo joins several Banyana players who are plying their trade abroad – Kaylin Swart, Amogelang Motau, Robyn Moodaly, and Kelso Peskin, among others.
“The experience that the South African players bring in the country will not only add value to Banyana Banyana because of her growth in the game, but I am convinced it will also open the doors for others. Scouts will start to visit South Africa, whereas before not many knew about the high potential South African players can offer,” added Pauw.
Motlhalo has just completed her matric and plans are afoot for her to continue with her studies abroad.
“This just a perfect scenario, something we planned with her family back in 2016. Gratitude goes to her parents and uncle who have been instrumental in how we plan her success in life, their support has been phenomenal. I can only say the sky is the limit for her,” said Pauw.
Motlhalo is expected to leave for Houston Dash at the beginning of March.
Motlhalo made her debut for Banyana at 17, scoring a goal in the 2-2 draw with Cameroon.
She joins Houston Dash after two seasons in the Sasol League where she was on the books of JVW F.C. Previously she was at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria.
The South African international has scored two goals and earned 14 caps with the senior team.
Motlhalo has made 25 appearances for the Under-20 national team.