South African women footballers have come a long way and one player who continues to defeat the odds is Port Elizabeth born Banyana Banyana goalkeeper, Kaylin Swart. It was through the support of her parents that Kaylin was able to reach the heights she has today. From her early days playing with boys, Swart’s parents, Elroy Swart and Lee-ann Swart were determined to support their daughter’s passion and dreams.
“The first time I saw Kaylin play football was for an under-9 boys’ team, Glenville Celtic. At first glance I could tell that she had great skills, she showed potential and met the competitive stature of the boys in the team. From a young age she was eager to play and when I was not available to transport her, she would eagerly walk to the fields”, said Enroy Swart.
As a young girl, Kaylin Swart’s parents were worried about her playing in a male dominated sport and possibly getting injured.
“We were always worried about injuries because boys are much tougher compared to girls. Kaylin has had a couple of serious injuries and we were always fearful that she wouldn’t recover from them. Though injury prone, Kaylin was able to push through and endure the challenges that came with playing football. More-so, because of the support her parents gave her she persevered and displayed her tenacity to overcome the curveballs life dealt her,” he added.
Kaylin’s first competitive football experience with girls was when she joined the Sasol League in 2009, playing for the Springs Home Sweepers team. The league exposed her to women’s football and the opportunities that would emerge.
“Ten years ago, there weren’t many opportunities for women footballers in South Africa, but thanks to the Sasol League, Kaylin Swart was scouted while playing for the University of Western Cape. She received a bursary which would enable her to play oversees and we were very proud of her. Even though the opportunities were great for her career, I always wished that I could be with her. It was very hard for me when she had to leave the country because I wanted to support and guide my daughter,” said Lee-ann Swart.
No stranger to the global stage, Kaylin Swart represented South Africa at the U-17 World Cup in 2010 and Banyana Banyana’s first World Cup in 2019. From the Sasol League to Banyana Banyana, Swart is a true reflection of how Sasol’s contribution to the game has made it conducive for footballers like her.
Kaylin’s mother admits that supporting a daughter who plays football was challenging however, looking at her journey and all that she has achieved makes it all worth it.
Even though Kaylin was good at cricket, I believe she made the right choice to play football because it’s her passion. She is currently coaching the Randburg FC team, JVW and St. Stithians College, and we continue to be proud of her. As parents, we would like to see women’s football become more professional in South Africa so that more parents can support and believe in their children’s dreams,” she said.
Adding to the importance of supporting girls in football, Mr Swart said, “I would like to encourage girls to continue playing football and challenge the norms. Find a Sasol League team in your community and start working on your skills. If Banyana Banyana can participate at a World Cup then our future is bright. I would also like to encourage parents, especially in rural areas to learn more about the sport and get behind their daughters because they all need our support,” he concluded.