WHEN Amanda Dlamini read her letter to Safa to finally let them know that she is retiring from Banyana Banyana, she knew that the name calling would soon start.
At the top of those would be suggestions that she is selfish. Who turns their back on a national team? The second one would be that she thinks that she is better than other players, choosing to leave the national team that “made her” to focus on other things. But the former Banyana captain, who has 105 caps to her name in a national team career that spanned 11 years, could not be bothered.
Having first thought about hanging up her boots back in 2015, but encouraged not to by teammates Janine van Wyk and Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Dlamini finally realised that it is time and bowed out of the national team to pursue interests such as being a pundit on SuperSport and putting her road transport management degree to good use.
“I have given everything to the country, but I know what is coming. It will always be easy for those who don’t know the inside stories to talk. We miss out on opportunities and money because of this and we are not making enough. Believe it or not, I am walking away from this with nothing, so it was not an easy decision to make,” Dlamini said.
“Of course, it was not only about money, but let us be fair, we also have to live. We have families to maintain and we also have other dreams. I gave everything. This is the time where I have to be selfish and put myself first. For 11 years, I put Banyana first.
“I am not an elite athlete or a high performance athlete anymore. I am not getting any younger and I cannot keep turning down these opportunities that can advance my life.”
Banyana interim coach Desiree Ellis described Dlamini’s retirement as a sad day for women’s football in the country. “It is also sad to see her depart the scene because I have known her since she was young and have seen her grow. Amanda has been an icon and a role model to many players, especially the young ones. We will surely miss her presence as she had a lot of influence both on and off the pitch,” Ellis said.
“She has left big shoes to fill and we are hopeful that with the talent that we have, we will find someone to run with the baton.” The classy midfielder made her Banyana debut back in 2007 in a 5-0 loss to Nigeria in an Olympic qualifier and scored her first international goal against Netherlands.
She has featured for Banyana in the 2012 London Olympics where she was captained and in 2016 Rio Olympics. In 2012, she founded the Amanda Dlamini Girls Foundation aiming to provide basic help to girls in rural areas.