Jermaine Seoposenwe returned from the US with a bagful of honours, a long list of milestones and a voice, albeit in an American accent.
The Banyana Banyana forward plans to use all of that, especially her newfound voice, to inspire girls to fight for what’s theirs and push her team-mates to qualify for the women’s World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.
The 24-year-old Capetonian, who is now on the books of Johannesburg-based JVW FC, spent four successful years at Samford University in Alabama.
Seoposenwe won the league with the Samford Bulldogs in each of the four seasons she spent there and also completed her degree in Business Administration, majoring in Marketing.
She left as Samford’s all-time top goal scorer, with 34 goals. In her debut season in 2014, she finished with the most assists in the Bulldogs’ history in a single season (13).
But those accomplishments, and numerous individual awards that came with them, mean less to Seoposenwe than the woman she’s become. “I’ve grown into the woman I want to be,” she says, “I am now out there as a person. I say whatever I feel is right at the time and I will deal with the consequences afterwards. As a woman, you need to have your voice heard. People have kept us back and tried to keep us quiet for a long time, denying us the rights and equality that we deserve.
“We have shown that we are strong, so knowing my strength and not letting anyone tell me otherwise is what I learnt in the US. As women, we need to stand up for ourselves because we’re just as good, even better, than men in our own right. We’re aren’t comparing ourselves with anyone but we are just as good.”
“I know that what I am doing is not only for me but for other girls as well. I want to show those girls that you have to be assured in who you are and what you stand for, and not to let anyone take that away from you.”
Return to South Africa
An Achilles tendon injury last year threatened to take away Seoposenswe’s joy in football. On recovery, she struggled with the adjustment of being on the bench instead of being the go-to person for goals for her club and country, as she had been for years.
But the solitude that came with the injury made her think long and hard about her future.
“I came back to South Africa because I wanted to find joy in football again,” she says, “I also want to focus wholeheartedly on the national team, help them qualify for the World Cup. I had opportunities to go to France, Norway, Sweden and Hungary. In Norway, I would have earned as much as a top player in the PSL. But it was a one-year contract and if it didn’t go well I would have returned to where I was. I also didn’t want to go to Norway as half the player that I was, which is why I am working hard to regain full fitness. I had to think about my future in the long term.”
Instead of signing a one-year deal in Norway, Seoposenwe and her Banyana team-mate Bontle Mashilo signed up for one-year internships with PR agency Levergy through Sasol’s #Limitless programme. They will juggle that job along with their Banyana careers in what is an important year for the senior women’s national team.
The 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup
Banyana will look to qualify for the World Cup for the first time by finishing in the top three in the Africa Women Cup of Nations (Awcon) that will be staged in Ghana from 17 November to 1 December.
But before they travel to Ghana, Banyana have to defend their Cosafa Cup crown on home soil from 12 to 23 September in Port Elizabeth. The Cosafa Cup is ideal preparation for the Awcon, which will decide Africa’s three representatives in the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
“It would mean a lot, not just for me and the team but for women’s football in South Africa, for us to go to the World Cup,” says Seoposenwe, as a Banyana player and a marketing person.
“It would bring a lot of hype into the game. When we qualify, it will definitely bring more sponsors on board. It will be much easier to sell the product.
“Many corporates think Banyana isn’t a place to invest in because they aren’t marketable. But it’s different once you have been on the other side, marketing Banyana as I have been and sitting in those meetings.”
She continues: “You see the numbers and you wonder why aren’t more people coming on board? For me it’s a must that we qualify for the World Cup. We’re going to put our lives on the line, I don’t care what we do but we are going [to France]. I have a burning desire to go to the World Cup.”