Banyana captain Van Wyk backs Olympic champion Caster Semenya to make it in football

Janine Van Wyk of Banyana Banyana during the South African national women's soccer team media open day at Marks Park Training Grounds on August 27, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Janine Van Wyk of Banyana Banyana during the South African national women's soccer team media open day at Marks Park Training Grounds on August 27, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk has backed Olympic and world 800m champion Caster Semenya to make it as a professional footballer if she puts her mind to it.

Semenya’s athletics career hangs in the balance after a Swiss judge overturned the provisional suspension of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) new testosterone rules in July.

The ruling by the Swiss court means that she will not be able defend her 800m title at the World Championship in Doha this month and she is exploring other sporting options.

“She had her first training session with us on Tuesday and she enjoyed it.

"You can see that she played football at a younger age‚” said Van Wyk‚ who owns football club JVW FC in Johannesburg.

“I am used to her doing her stuff on the track but I must admit it was strange seeing her kick the ball around.

"She can kick the ball well‚ the skill is there to see and my assessment is that she is quite good at playing football.

"I have no doubt in my mind that she can make a success of it if she puts her mind to it because she has quality‚ ”

Van Wyk‚ who watched Semenya’s training session from the sidelines as she recovers from a knee injury suffered with Banyana during the recent Cosafa Championships in Port Elizabeth‚ said the star athlete needs to work on a few things.

“I was impressed with how she performed on her first training session‚" he said.

"My feedback to her after training was that she needs to work more on her coordination and how she runs on and off the ball.”

Van Wky said Semenya discussed her wish to train at JVW FC when the world-renowned athlete attended an event at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France a few months ago.

“We had a long discussion at the World Cup in France while attending a sponsor’s event‚" Van Wky said.

"We were staying at the same hotel‚ so it was easy to talk about a lot of stuff.

"We spoke about her career but football dominated most of our discussions because we were at the Women’s World Cup.

"She told me that she wanted to try football and she finally came to our training session this week which was awesome.

"She will continue to train with us on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the coming weeks and we will take it from there.

"As a club we are truly honoured to have someone of Caster’s magnitude training with us and I am sure that her presence will motivate the girls because she is a superstar and a role model to many people.”

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