Banyana Banyana’s Kaylin Swart makes it big in US
She spent much of her time as a child playing soccer with boys simply because girls’ teams were few and far between.
Now Port Elizabeth’s own Kaylin Swart, Banyana Banyana’s goalkeeper, is making a name for herself in the United States.
The 24-year-old shot-stopper from Gelvandale is based in America, where she fills the role of goalkeeper at Menlo College.
Swart has been consistent in the South African women’s national team, which has seen her enjoy regular game time in the squad, and she has played a vital role in Banyana’s success in 2018.
The former Parkside Primary and St Thomas High pupil said her next step was to ensure she embarked upon a professional career.
“When I started out I had no idea that things were going to take off the way they did so fast,” said Swart, who was visiting her Port Elizabeth family last week.
“Growing up I only played with the boys. There was no women’s team and as I grew older, Banyana Banyana was the goal.”
Swart said that as interest in women’s football grew, the Banyana Banyana team was doing all it could to be consistent.
“I think we need to keep working hard and keep putting our foot on the pedal.
“Being professional is the next step in our careers. It’s pretty positive, we just need to keep going and hopefully everything works out for us.”
Swart started playing soccer when she was just seven years old – for Glenville Celtic development structures, up until the age of 15.
Her big break came when she was spotted by coach Joseph Mkhonza during a tournament in Port Elizabeth.
“I owe that guy so much. He told me to think about going to the High Performance Centre in Pretoria.
“That is where it all kicked off I went over there to boarding school and to play soccer, in 2009. I think that was the best move I made, leaving PE and leaving home at an early age, it definitely helped me.
“I went to the University of the Western Cape for a year and, towards the end of my first year, I was called in by the coach. She asked if I was interested in going overseas and I was like: ‘Obviously I would love to go’. Little did I know it was going to be so soon.
“The following year, in 2014, Menlo College contacted me and we communicated via email. I spoke to the coach over the phone one night and he offered me a bursary.
“I started studying sport management and marketing and I graduated this year in May.”
The goalkeeper said her first month abroad had been tough as she had to adjust to a totally different culture, lifestyle and environment, but she managed to get by with the help of former high school friend Robin Moodley, who was also in that side.
Swart started off her early soccer career playing all positions. Manning the goals was the last thing on her mind.
It was only when her dad introduced her to the idea that she decided to give it a go.
“I think I was about 12 or 13 years old when my dad said ‘Hey, you should try being in the goals’. He was like ‘try it out’ and I said, ‘OK’.
“When I started I thought no, this is actually not for me and then I would play in and out of goal. I think when I started high school at St Thomas it was when I became a goalkeeper full-time.
“My dad coached me for a little bit before I went to [the] high performance centre.”
Swart headed back to camp last Sunday as Banyana prepare for the Afcon competition which kicks off in Ghana next month.
She has been involved in impressive victories with Banyana Banyana.
After losing to Sweden in January in Cape Town, the national team registered back-toback victories over Lesotho in the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers earlier this year.
The winning streak continued when they went unbeaten in five matches to defend their Cosafa Cup title in PE.
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis applauded Swart’s performance, especially her work during their crunch game against Cameroon in the final of the tournament.
“She [Swart] was not named player of the match for nothing.
“She was outstanding,” Ellis said.