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COSAFA Women's Cup

2019 Cosafa Women’s Cup: Refiloe Jane

15:09 BST 28/07/2019
Refiloe Jane of South Africa 2018 Cosafa Womens Championship 22 September 2018
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While Thembi Kgatlana has stolen much of the headlines during South Africa’s recent return to prominence within the women’s game, Banyana Bayana vice-captain Refiloe Jane has underpinned the team’s success.

The forward was born in a township near Kliptown, Soweto, and soon moved to nearby Pimville after her birth.

Her footballing education came, initially, from her brothers—Frank and Emmanuel—who taught her some of the tricks and moves she still uses today on Soweto’s hallowed streets.

Unlike her Banyana teammate Janine van Wyk, the subject of our first Cosafa Women’s Cup profile, Jane wasn’t treated differently for being a girl playing among boys during her formative years.

Instead, her brothers treated her just the same as they would anyone else.

“One day I told her to just come play with us and we played two versus one, them versus me,” elder brother Frank told News 24. “We would tackle her, disregarding that she was a girl.

“We played her like a normal guy. At first she would cry, but she got used to it.”

After winning a Future Champions Tournament talent search ahead of 1000 other children, Jane received the opportunity to train with both Manchester City and Everton ladies teams, and vowed to one day play overseas again.

The 26-year-old subsequently played for Colchester United, Mamelodi Sundowns and the Vaal University of Technology, before moving to Australia to play for Canberra United in 2018.

It was a transfer that came at a cost, however, with the W-League club exercising the right to recall her from the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations during the tournament.

Heart-breakingly for Jane, their decision was made on the eve of Banyana’s final against Nigeria, denying the midfielder the chance to play in one of the biggest games of her career.

“It is sad that I won’t be playing in the final against Nigeria at the weekend,” she told journalists, as per The Times.

"A piece of me wants to play in the final but the other part of me wants me to go and chase my dream of playing pro football overseas.

“It is not a good situation to be in but it comes with the territory of being a professional athlete.”

Jane returned to Australia without playing in the Awcon final, but one target—to help the national side qualify for the World Cup—had already been achieved.

After playing all three of South Africa’s matches during their bruising campaign in France—in which they lost all of their matches—the versatile midfielder will be hoping to help Banyana reach another final (and to play in it this time!).