Banyana Banyana’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations victory is still being felt across the country months after the team made history in Morocco.

They were the first South African women’s team to win the continental championship, which was won by their male counterparts, Bafana Bafana, in 1996.

The victory over Morocco in July was a watershed moment for the women’s game in South Africa, inspiring head coach Desiree Ellis’ charges to inspire the next generation of talented players.

Saaniyah Domingo, a product of the Spanish club RCD Espanyol de Barcelona Academy, could find herself playing in the IberCup, one of the world’s premier youth tournaments, in Barcelona next year.

Saaniyah, a 15-year-old right winger from Claremont, Johannesburg, fell in love with football when she was nine years old.

She began by accompanying her elder sister Shaziah to watch her play soccer at Wits, and she became hooked.

“I started playing soccer when I was nine years old, and I’d go home after that because I couldn’t be on the Wits team with my sister,” Saaniyah tells Sport24.

“At home, I would watch soccer games on my own and YouTube tutorials on how to perform specific skills on the field.

“I taught myself to juggle and everything. When I was 12, my mother noticed that I was becoming more interested in football, and my aunt advised her to send me to SuperSport Soccer Schools.

“That’s where I really honed my skills. They were extremely helpful.

“But being the only female in the room was challenging because the boys assumed, ‘She’s a girl; what does she know about football?’

“But they instilled toughness in me, which helped shape me into the player I am today, so I’m grateful for that as well.”

Saaniyah is homeschooling and is entirely focused on pursuing a career in football.

Her mother, Farana, is fully supportive, and she has been sponsored by the fibre technology company Vuma to attend the Espanyol Academy in Johannesburg in order to pursue her dreams.

Her belief in her ability to become a full-fledged South African international was cemented after witnessing Banyana make history in Morocco.

Hildah Magaia scoring twice to win the trophy will be etched in her impressionable mind for the rest of her life.

“I would like to play for Banyana someday,” she says.

“It will take hard work and dedication to get there.

“When I saw Banyana Banyana during the Africa Cup of Nations, I was astounded.

“They have opened many doors for South African young female footballers, demonstrating that the sky is the limit.

“Hildah’s goals simply demonstrated South African talent and demonstrated to young females that they can [have a chance] to showcase their abilities.

“What I took away from them was their teamwork and their play, which was phenomenal.”

Saaniyah’s understanding of the game has grown as a result of her participation in Espanyol’s satellite academy in Johannesburg, and she already sounds far ahead of her peers.

“Right now, the methodology of how our team trains is very intense,” she says.

“Trainings are stressful. Your fitness level must be high, and your eating habits must be altered. You can’t eat the way you used to.

“We learn how to manage the game, pass into space, communicate, when to be on the ball and when not to be on the ball, and most importantly, how to read the game and the speed of play.

“That is what we do on a daily basis. As a winger, I spend a lot of time practising crossing and shooting.”

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