Motlhalo played soccer in the streets with the boys

Banyana Banyana midfield star Linda Motlhalo prides herself for putting her football-loving family and hometown on the map.

Her father, Johannes was the coach of one of her hometown teams, the Mighty Bucs, and she said her grandfather is legendary Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Joseph “Banks” Setlhodi.

“I come from a family that loves football, that played football, but they never made it as professionals. My aunt also played football and, of course, the well-known legend Banks Setlhodi happens to be my granddad,” said Motlhalo.

The 24-year-old from Brandvlei in Randfontein, west of Joburg, recently made history as she scored the penalty that saw Banyana Banyana qualify for the Women’s African Cup of Nations final.

They beat hosts Morocco to claim the trophy.

The excited Motlhalo said she only started playing football out of love, and never imagined that it would be a career she could follow, until she one day realised she could not spend days without engaging in the sport.

“I was a very energetic girl. I just wanted to be busy all the time and it started back in primary school, where I was doing athletics, but unfortunately there was no soccer back then.

“So I did athletics but I realised I didn’t just want to run all the time, so I started playing football with the boys in the streets. That is how I fell in love with soccer. I was not just running, I was running with a ball,” said Motlhalo.

She said her breakthrough came when she attended the High Performance Centre where she was introduced to the national setup. She said she was only 12 when she represented the U-17 and U-20 teams.

“My highlights would be qualifying for the Olympics. I remember I was only 18 years old and the youngest in the squad, and being part of the Banyana Banyana team that qualified for the Fifa World Cup.”

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