Banyana Banyana striker Hildah Magaia has now nicely settled at her new home, Moron BK, which campaigns in the Sweden Elitettan – (second division of the women’s league).
The 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship gold medalist, COSAFA Player of the Tournament, Player of the Season of the then SAFA Women’s National League and also Top Goal Scorer in the same league, says this is a dream come true.
“Indeed, this is a dream come true for me. All my football life I have wanted to play abroad and having signed my first professional contract is an indication that I am on the right track. I was inspired by Banyana Banyana vice captain Refiloe Jane, who is now with Italian giants AC Milan, and to follow in her footsteps by playing abroad is just exciting,” said an excited Hildah from Sweden.
“Even when there was nothing happening regarding a move overseas, I never lost hope and I just kept on believing, knowing that when the time is right, it will happen. I am very happy and also proud of myself for not giving up. I hope this inspires other players not to lose hope quickly.”
Magaia arrived in Sweden at the end of February this year and was met by a great challenge – the weather where mostly they record degrees below freezing point.
She says she knew it was not going to be easy but had to quickly adjust, because she knew what she wanted.
“I knew very well what I was getting myself into, and I had to face the challenge head on or pack my bags and go home, but that was never an option. After weeks of adjusting, I am now nicely settled and feeling at home. It is still cold – and on other days I can’t feel my toes – but I am enjoying myself,” added Magaia.
“I think my saving grace in settling in so easily and quickly is that everyone here speaks English. They also welcomed me very warmly – it was as if I had been here before, left and then came back. They were clearly waiting for my arrival with great anticipation.”
The former TUT Ladies FC captain did not disappoint when she got the chance to play.
She has now scored five goals in four games, continuing where she left off in the National League and Banyana Banyana – she missed the first two league games due to injury.
“I am really proud and excited at the way things are going – I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly, but I am enjoying every minute of it. Gratitude goes to my teammates who make it so easy for me to be on the score sheet regularly – we work as a unit and this helps a lot. What is also encouraging is that I have started all the games – except the last one as I am troubled by a hamstring injury. Being in the starting line-up does wonders for self-confidence,” said Magaia.
“The last games I played in South Africa before my departure was the COSAFA Cup, and I finished the tournament on a high – (she was top goal scorer – Ed) – and I think that is also carrying me through my games.”
Magaia spoke to SAFA Media from Sweden and had more to say:
What differences are there between South African football and the Swedish game?
“Having been in the national team before, I knew that European football is way different from ours. They are very quick, have firm passes and don’t hold on the ball too long – I have had to adjust quickly so I don’t get left behind. Now I can hold my own.”
So how did the move to Sweden come about?
“After the COSAFA Cup I was contacted by several agents trying to see where I stand and my plans were, but they all fell away without anything concrete. There was initially talk about Minsk in Belarus, but nothing happened – then Thembi’s agent came along with an offer that I could not refuse. I must thank U17 Women’s National Team masseuse, Christa Kgampe, who acted as my mentor and guided me through the whole thing until I signed on the dotted line.”
You have Banyana Banyana teammate Linda Motlhalo in Sweden, do you meet often?
“Linda plays for Djurgardens IF and they are in the first division. Even though we play in the same country, I don’t see much of her as she is far from where I am based. I saw her not so long ago when they came to face us in a cup competition (like the Nedbank Cup) and they beat us 4-1.”
What do you do in your spare time?
“Because of the cold weather, we don’t venture too much outside unless when we have to. I prefer staying indoors and either watch movies or chat to family back home. On rare occasions we will take a walk downtown to get some fresh air. Other times I chat a lot to Fifi (Refiloe Jane) and Thembi, where we encourage and motivate each other.”
There are several Banyana Banyana abroad, and this is good news:
“Absolutely, and this will surely improve the standard of the game in our country because we will go back home with more experience to uplift the national team. With most of us plying our trade in Europe, this can only help grow Banyana Banyana. Previously, all we knew was our own style of play and now we are able mix the two together and when we walk onto the field we will be able to hold our own against top European teams. ”
Hollywoodbets Super League – you only played one season and were joint top goal scorer with Rhoda Mulaudzi.
“It was the inaugural season and we were both in fine form. She was at Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies at the time, and the fact that we scored 36 goals each showed not just the competitiveness of the individuals but also of the clubs. The standard is much higher than the Sasol League, so we had to be on top of our game week in week out. We pushed Sundowns all the way, which made for an exciting finish. I must also add that the National League was very challenging and it prepared me somewhat for where I am today,”
Sponsorship in women’s football – your thoughts?
“This is good for women’s football. Gratitude goes to Sasol who have been there for as long as we can remember. Now we have Hollywoodbets coming on board – we can never thank them enough for their contribution in assisting the growth of women’s football. The new developments will only lead to every player wanting to raise their games. With regard to the Super League, the increased prize money and the Player of the Match awards – will encourage the players more. This will certainly improve the standard of women’s football, which has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years. Thank you once more Sasol and Hollywoodbets.”
Talking about the Sasol league – this is where you were groomed:
“I will always appreciate what the Sasol League has done for most, if not all of us. I can safely say that the league is like a mother to us – it gave birth to the stars that are today known around the world. And as everyone has been saying, we would not be here if it wasn’t for the Sasol League – they took care of us and gave us something that no one could give us, a platform. Also, giving us playing kit – speaks volumes. Sasol League groomed us and now we take different routes in life armed with gratitude and respect for them.
You last played for Banyana Banyana in September 2020, do you miss the squad?
“My last match for Banyana Banyana resulted in a win that saw us lift the trophy, not only that but I was the top goal scorer as well as Player of the Tournament – so yes I do miss the national team. I was meant to return home for the two matches against Botswana and Zambia but the challenge was that I would have had to quarantine when returning to the club, and I was going to miss some league matches. The season ends in November, and if I don’t come back for any games between now and then, it means I will be back home at the end of the year.”
Your advice to other players looking up to you?
“Good things come to those who wait, good things take time. If you want something in life, you must go get it and work hard for it – don’t let anyone dissuade you from your dream. Don’t take note of the negative things that people will say and always remember, rely on God because he knows the plans he has for you.
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