Banyana Banyana striker Portia Modise is three goals away from reaching yet another milestone in her career. Modise registered her 97th goal in national team colours last weekend, when South Africa walloped Botswana 10–0 in an international friendly match. She is about to make history as the first National team player to reach 100 goals should she score in the next coming matches. The Soweto-born player is the highest capped player in the women’s national team with 113 caps.
Modise made her debut in the senior national team in 2000. SAFA caught up with ‘Bashin’ as she is affectionately nicknamed for her great habit of finding the back of the net, while the team is in camp preparing for the 2014 African Women’s Championship (AWC), and conducted this interview.
Portia, take us through your childhood, where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Soweto, I grew up there. I had a normal childhood, I went to school, played in the streets and did house chores.
How did the love of football come about?
I am not sure where it came from, I guess it’s a gift I was born with. I see it as a blessing from God.
When did you realise that you are capable of playing football?
When I played on the streets with my brothers and friends, we used to play street soccer, that’s where I leant the skills.
What did your family say when they realised that you love football and that is the sport you want to play?
My family didn’t have a problem with it, they said if it makes me happy then it is fine with them. They supported me financially and bought me kit and soccer boots.
Was football the only sport you loved/played at school?
Yes, it was the only sport I loved and played at school, I chose it over other sports.
A lot of people know you as the senior national team player, take us through your junior national team ranks, which divisions have you represented?
I played for Basetsana at the age of 13, I captained that team. By the age of 15 I was called up to Banyana Banyana.
What was your reaction when you received your first senior national team call-up?
I was over the moon, my life time dream had just come true, and knowing I was going to be playing with great players made me very happy.
You are one of the few female footballers in the country who have played abroad, how was the experience?
It was a life change experience and it helped me mature at a young age. It was not easy to be away from home but I worked hard, I learnt a lot from my teammates, that experience taught me a lot of life lessons.
You are also the highest capped player in the national team with 113 caps, how does that make you feel?
It feels great and all the years of hard work are finally paying off. I believe that I am highly blessed.
You have played under different national team coaches, how is life under Coach Vera Pauw?
I enjoy playing under Coach Vera. She is open about many things and treats us like professionals footballers. She is a mother to us, it helps to have a female coach as she understands the challenges of being a women.
You are three goals away from making history and being the first player to score 100 goals for a national team in South Africa, how does it feel?
I still cannot believe that I’m just a few goals away from reaching another milestone in national team colours, it’s a great honour and I owe it all to my teammates who over the years have been supportive, without them I would not be three goals away from scoring my 100th.
With Banyana Banyana going to play in the African Women’s Championship, what are your personal ambitions?
If I am part of the team going to Namibia, my burning desire and ambition is to help the team qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, for me that would be my greatest achievement.
How is the standard of women’s football in the country now, as compared to when you started playing?
Today there are more women playing football, which is a good thing, but the level is still very low. In the national team, things are better as we play a lot of games ahead of a big tournament like AWC and all this is possible because of the support from our sponsor Sasol.
What can help the women’s game grow in the country?
Having a professional women’s football league will help develop the sport and allow for a bigger pool of players to represent the national team. This will also help us (South Africa) to be strong enough to compete with the world’s best.
What are your future plans?
I want to coach, football has brought so much to my life and I want to give back to the youngsters out there.