BANYANA Banyana captain Janine van Wyk was at a loss for words after she was named the 2015 Gauteng Sports Personality of the Year at a glittering event last Sunday.
She was however unable to attend the event as she is currently in camp with the national team preparing for a crucial do or die second leg final round qualifier of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana will face Equatorial Guinea on Sunday (October 18) at Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea. Kickoff is 5pm.
Van Wyk was competing against William Mokgopo from cycling as well as Lucas Sithole from wheelchair tennis in her category.
This is her second major award after she was crowned the SAFA Player of the Year for 2010.
She first kicked a ball at the age of five and has been playing the game 23 years –10 of those in the National Team.
“I am absolutely lost for words being named The Gauteng Sports Personality of the year 2015. I can’t describe the feeling of emotion when I heard my name being called out! It brought so much joy to my heart, knowing I have been recognized by firstly the MEC of Gauteng and the public for all the hard work, efforts and sacrifices I have made throughout my career,” said Van Wyk from the Banyana Banyana camp.
“I have to thank everyone who voted for me, those who believe in the hard-working and passionate individual that I am. I want to pass a message across to all women in sport around the country – never allow anyone to take your dreams away from you, don’t be afraid of any challenges or failures you face in life because those challenges and failures are there to help u become the person u striving to be.”
And she knows it means a lot to women’s football to have won the award.
“I am so glad I walked away with the award as I was the only female in this category. I believe it will inspire upcoming and current women who play the sport. It also shows that if you have a dream and work really hard towards it, somewhere, somehow people will recognize you for what you do which will make you succeed at the end of the day,” added Van Wyk.
“I am truly blessed by receiving this award. It gives me more motivation to continue to serve my country as far and as well as I possibly can and I will continue to uplift women’s football because it deserves all the recognition of fantastic, talented footballers out there.“
But for now her focus is on the crucial clash with Equatorial Guinea.
“Sunday is a really MASSIVE day for me and the team as we will be playing our first leg against Equatorial Guinea. We did well by holding them to a goalless draw at home, now what remains is to go out there and finish off the job. We are under no illusion that it will be a walk in the park but we are up for the battle. We have been working really hard in camp for the past few days and we can’t wait to get to Bata realise our dream of qualifying for our second Olympic Games. I really hope this award will inspire all of us to work twice as hard to achieve our objective,” said Van Wyk.
The Banyana Banyana defender is also up for another accolade – the ANN7 Sports Person of the Year award. She is going up against phenomenal athletes such as South African cricketer AB de Villiers, rugby player Dwayne Vermeulen and football Star Teko
Modise, among others.
“I am again the only female nominated in this category. Being nominated is a great achievement for me, so whether I win it or not I will still see myself as an inspiration to many. If I do win it though and we do qualify for the Olympics it would really wrap up what would surely be the best year of my life,” concluded Van Wyk.
The winner between South Africa and Equatorial Guinea will qualify for the Olympic Games, which will take, place from 5 – 21 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.