PORT Elizabeth-born Kaylin Swart, 18, is relishing her inclusion in the Banyana Banyana soccer squad and is hoping to make an impression in the 12-nations Women's Cup, which started in Cyprus yesterday.
The goalkeeper, 18, who is a first-year BA student at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), received a surprise call-up to the national squad.
Swart, who was born in Gelvandale, is a graduate of the SA under-20 women's national team (Basetsana) and is one of five new caps from that side to be included in the Banyana squad.
Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza had decided to give his regular players, including Zwide- based Liverpool Ladies defender Amanda Sister, a break.
Swart's inclusion is part of a natural progression from the national u-17 and u-20 teams.
She said she was excited at her first call-up to the Banyana squad as it was always her ambition to play for the senior national team.
"Being in the squad for the Cyprus Cup means a lot to me, honestly. I never expected to be in the team at this stage, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to show off my talent," she said.
"I have been working hard for this position and I'm glad that the coaches saw the potential in me. Being the youngest in the squad, I hope to gain the required experience and grow as a national team player, and see myself becoming a regular player in the Banyana Banyana squad."
Mkhonza said he was confident the squad had what it took to conquer the other 11 nations and he would try some new combinations.
"The players worked very hard in the training camp and they all showed a lot of potential which made selection that much tougher for me and the technical team. We have included new young players coming from the Basetsana squad and I'm looking forward to seeing them perform in the Banyana Banyana squad."
UWC sport administration head Ilhaam Groenewald said the university was excited about the inclusion of its three players – Swart, Jermaine Seoposenwe and Vuyo Mkhabela – in the Banyana set-up.
"This is an indication that we are working towards achieving both academic as well as business objectives, hereby ensuring that we continue to strive towards achieving our vision of excellence through sport.
"Women's sport is a key area of transformation and Banyana Banyana has contributed immensely to the national transformation agenda. We are confident that our students' inclusion is creating future opportunities to further strengthen women's sport development, including competing at the highest competition level possible."
Banyana Banyana are in Group C of the tournament with Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and South Korea.