(Published - 22 May 2019)
University of the Western Cape (UWC) rising football star, Bongeka Gamede, has been selected for the Banyana Banyana team set to participate in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Her inclusion takes the UWC Banyana Banyana contingent to six.
The 20-year-old Gamede was called up for the 23-member squad along with other UWC alumnae - African Footballer of the Year Thembi Kgatlana, who plies her trade in China for Beijing BG Phoenix FC; Kylin Swart who is on the books of Golden Stars in her home town of Port Elizabeth; midfielder Leandra Smeda who plays for Vottsjo GIK in Sweden; as well as forward Jermaine Seoposenwe who is registered with KF Gintra University in Lithuania.
“It is every footballer’s dream to play for a national team, and I’m so happy that mine has finally come true,” Gamede said before leaving campus on Wednesday to join the Banyana camp ahead of their trip to France.
UWC Ladies FC coach, Thinasonke Mbuli, is also traveling with Banyana as an assistant coach.
The month-long tournament, in which South Africa will participate for the first time, kicks off on June 7. Banyana is in Group B alongside Spain, Germany and China.
Born in Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, Gamede enrolled at UWC last year and is pursuing her degree in tourism. She believes that she caught the attention of the national selectors when she played for UWC Ladies FC at the Sasol League national club championships, which are contested by provincial champions, in Kimberly late last year.
She recalled that she was walking to her room on campus after a training session one day when the coach told her about an upcoming Banyana camp. “She was not clear that I would be called-up or not but said I have to be fit and be ready and stay focussed. That was when I could read between the lines that I got a call up to Banyana.”
Gamede, who plays as defender, aims to absorb as much experience as possible at the World Cup, and help Banyana perform at its highest level. And there is no better time to gain such experience than while rubbing shoulders with her football role model, Mamello Makhabane, who is also in the Banyana team. “She is a great footballer and has a good heart. Everytime she is on the field she inspires me.”