The Future Players Gauteng Talent Search has proved a superb launching pad for young careers, but perhaps none more so than South African women’s international Refiloe Jane, who is just back from competing at her second Olympic Games.
Jane was a winner of the Future Players programme in 2009 and has gone on to be a leading star for the women’s national team in the years since.
She played in all three matches for Banyana Banyana at the 2016 Olympics, including marking substitute Marta, one of the greats of women’s football, out of the game in the 0-0 draw with Brazil.
For the 24-year-old, who is forever grateful to the Future Players programme, this is just the beginning.
“It was a great experience to be at the Olympics in Brazil, even though we did not progress to the knockout stages,” Jane says. “We are disappointed we could not get out of the first round, but at the same time proud of the performances we put in.
“We played against some of the top teams in the world in Sweden, China and Brazil, and we gave all of them a run for their money. We were not overawed or outplayed, we were just unlucky at times.”
“I think I had a good tournament. To play in all three games was great and I gave it my all. Although things didn’t go our way it was a positive experience and something to learn from.”
She will continue her career with Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies in the Sasol League.
“Winning the Future Players Gauteng Talent Identification Programme really kick-started my career and gave me so much confidence to believe that I can play for a top local side and even internationally,” Jane says.
“I hope I can be an inspiration to other girls and guys that you can achieve your dreams with hard work.”
Jane also appeared for Banyana Banyana at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, playing all three matches at that tournament too. “I think we have improved a lot as a team between the two Olympic Games and we can be proud of our achievements. For us the challenge now as players is to keep getting better and lift women’s football in South Africa.”
This year’s Future Players winners were Philani Kunene, Prince Moeketsi and Charlton Jade, who will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain as guests of LaLiga. There they will visit some of the biggest clubs in the world and take in training at academies.