WORLD CUP DESK: Banyana Banyana reaping the rewards of HPC success

“The success of Banyana Banyana is not incidental or accidental, but a result of long-term planning in player development. They have now played in two Olympic Games, they are African Champions and also heading to their second FIFA Women’s World Cup – that speaks to years of planning and continuity as well as input from a number of people and that is why the team is doing so well,” said a beaming Fran Hilton-Smith, former Technical Women’s Director at SAFA, as well as ex-Banyana Banyana coach.

It was in 1998 when Hilton-Smith went to the USA on an exchange program to visit some academies and returned home armed with a plan and a vision.

She was named coach of Banyana Banyana in 2000, and got the chance to put her dream into action.

“When I was appointed the coach of Banyana Banyana, the players came to camp and I realised that they were the best players from their teams but were often injured, some had left school and didn’t have great nutrition. We knew then that if we didn’t start some kind of our own performance centre academy, we were never going to get the girls on track – because when they returned home, they went back to their old ways of life,” said Fran.

“Twenty-one years ago (2002) I approached SAFA and the lottery, and we founded the High-Performance Centre (HPC) at the Tuks University in Pretoria – a five-star place – where the girls would come and live, go to a five-star school, have sports science assistance, good nutrition, and daily training to ensure that the team would improve. And that is not a surprise that today 11 of those players are going to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.”

The first intake of players at the HPC included the likes of Janine van Wyk, who went on to play in the USA, Denmark, Scotland and Greece, and also captained the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana team. She is currently the most capped footballer in South Africa with 183 appearances for country – and needs only two matches to rewrite the history books and become the most capped on the continent – female or male.

The other highly acclaimed early intake at the HPC is Nompumelelo Nyandeni, who played EURO Women’s Champions League for WFC Rossiyanka while in Russia and has 149 caps for Banyana Banyana. She was the Hollywoodbets Super League top goal scorer for 2022 and joint with Andisiwe Mgcoyi the season before.

According to the Head Coach Sheryl Botes, the Academy has developed over 122 players to serve all the Women National teams. Part of the success of the Academy was Anna Monate (Assistant Coach) and Josina Tellie (Granny) as the House mother. The SAFA Girls Soccer Academy has become the backbone for all the Women National teams especially for Banyana Banyana and its success.

The following number of players have represented the country during the following tournaments –  

  • 10 x Players represented the country at the U17 Woman’s W Cup, Uruguay, 2018
  • 19 x  Players represented the U20 Woman’s National team
  • 12 x Players qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016
  • 12 x Players represented the country at the Woman’s World Cup, in 2019
  • 12 x Players were part of the team that qualified for the World Cup at 2022 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco
  • 14 x Players qualified for the current Woman’s World Cup, NZ & Australia, 2023
  • 14 x Players qualified for the current Woman’s World Cup, NZ & Australia, 2023 

“An amazing journey, as the Head Coach of the SAFA Girls Soccer Academy based at the High Performance, for the past 16 years, has been a great honour. I had the opportunity and privilege of seeing how these girls have developed into elite athletes and more importantly into beautiful individuals. 14 players qualified Banyana Banyana for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but only 11 made it to the final list of 23, with two on stand-by and one not part of the squad (Janine) – this in itself is an amazing achievement and record,” said Sheryl Botes, Head Coach at HPC.

The following players, currently in the Banyana Banyana squad, joined HPC during the following years:


Simphiwe  Dludlu (Ass. Coach)


Kaylin Swart – GK

Robyn Moodaly

Nomvula Kgoale


Kebotseng Moletsane – GK

Gabriela Salgado

Amogelang Motau


Thembi Kgatlana

Linda Motlhalo


Regirl Ngobeni – GK

Bongeka  Gamede


Karabo Dhlamini


Sibulele Holweni

Noxolo Cesane

“Quality investment will always yield results no matter how long it takes. It might not be same time rewards but you are guaranteed consistency. A well run project by SAFA Girls Football Academy at HPC will give us positive long term results, without any doubt and today we are seeing the results of all the hard work that various people have put in over the years,” said Simphiwe Dludlu – a product of HPC, former Banyana Banyana captain, current head coach of the SA U17 Women’s National, and also Banyana Banyana assistant coach.

Another role player that cannot be left behind in South Africa’s upward trajectory in Women’s Football is Sasol.

When no one was interested, they established a women’s league in 2009 and players at the HPC and all over the country were able to find a home to go to and prune their talents.

It was thanks to the Sasol League that South Africa participated in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the 2010 and 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup tournaments in Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay respectively, the FIFA 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and several Women’s Africa Cup of Nations – before the formation of the SAFA Women’s National League in August 2019.

“The HPC has been the cornerstone of the development of women’s football in this country, and today we can see all the results from the efforts put in over the years – which to speaks to saying that ‘patience is a virtue’. We also need to applaud Sasol for the sterling work they have done since coming on board – where else were these players going to showcase their talents if it wasn’t for the Sasol League. Their support has been amazing,” said SAFA CEO Lydia Monyepao, herself a former Banyana Banyana player.

“The existence of the Sasol League has helped us to go a step further and launch the Hollywoodbets Super League. We will forever be grateful for the perseverance which is now paying dividends for all involved. Women’s football has come a long way, and we while we admit we are not where we want to be, we have made significance progress, and it can only get better from here.” 

By Matlhomola Morake 

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