You probably have not heard of 17-year-old Linda Motlhalo.
But a lot will soon be said about her, as she is clearly making her way in women’s football and may be on her way to stardom.
The Grade 12 pupil at TuksSport High School at the High-Performance Centre of the University of Pretoria has already represented South Africa in all national-team age groups.
Not only that, she scored against Nigeria at both the Under-17 and Under-19 levels – home and away.
The Bantwana and Basetsana midfielder scored on her debut for Banyana Banyana when they drew 2-2 with Cameroon last month.
This week she again helped Banyana qualify for the CAF African Women’s Championship to be held in Cameroon in November.
Now that she has tasted how life is in the senior team, she is not looking back.
The energetic Motlhalo has set her sights on the Rio de Janeiro Olympics later this year.
“It would mean a lot if I were to be selected for either tournament. I want to gain the experience of playing in a tournament. But it is too early to think that far.
“I am just happy to have been part of this team. The senior players have made me feel at home and it was good to rub shoulders with the likes of Janine [van Wyk] and Amanda [Dlamini]. I really enjoyed my time here.
“I hope to make the team for the Cameroon tournament too. If I don’t make it, I will still work hard and wait for my chance.”
She is not getting ahead of herself as yet.
She believes she still has a lot to learn and time is on her side.
Her ambition is to one day don the colours of her favourite club for the famous Arsenal Ladies team – and she has faith that she can achieve that.
It is not surprising that Motlhalo has soccer in her veins, as she comes from Brandvlei – a stone’s throw from Randfontein, known for being a breeding ground for some of the finest footballers in the country.
It’s the home of the likes of the late Pule “Ace” Ntsoelengoe, Donald “Ace” Khuse and Orlando Pirates captain Oupa “Ace” Manyisa.
Safa’s head of women’s football, Fran Hilton-Smith, could not stop talking about the new sensation. She reckons Motlhalo is one for the future.
“What stands out about her is her big-match temperament,” said Hilton-Smith. “From the first time I saw her, I knew she was going places. She is definitely going places. Her tactical awareness at her age is very good and I believe she is in good hands with [Banyana coach] Vera Pauw.”
Hilton-Smith said Motlhalo, like any other player, stands a good chance of going to the Olympics.