South African athlete, Caster Semenya joins South African football team ahead of career change
London, Sep 6, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Two-time Olympic 800m gold medallist Caster Semenya has joined a South African women’s football team ahead of a career change
Semenya, has set a new challenge for herself in her already-illustrious career by taking to the football field.
The renowned 28-year-old South African athlete has always had a love for football. During her youth years, Semenya played soccer at school, so it is no shock that she has finally set her sights on playing competitive football.
Although the South African running sensation will not be registered for the 2019 SAFA Sasol League, the league in which JVW plays, due to the transfer window being closed for the 2019 season, she will continue to train with the team in preparation for a 2020 debut.
JVW FC is currently sitting second on the Gauteng Sasol Log, 2 points (with 3 games in hand) behind leaders, Croesus Ladies with ambitions to qualify for playoffs and a chance to feature in the National League.
The 28-year-old is unable to compete without taking testosterone-reducing drugs following a rule change by the IAAF, athletics’ governing body.
It means she cannot defend her 800m World Championship title in Doha this month – though she is fighting the rule change through the courts.
She is now training with Gauteng-based women’s football club JVW.
“I am looking forward to this new journey, I appreciate the love and support I already get from the team,” Semenya told the club website.
JVW FC, was formed in 2013 by current South Africa Women’s captain, Janine van Wyk, aiming to “identify, develop, improve and expose” female footballers.
The club is one of the top sides in the league for Gauteng province – the main women’s football league in South Africa is split into nine provincial competitions.
Club founder Van Wyk said she was “absolutely honoured” that Semenya had chosen JVW “as the club where she would like to start showcasing her football skills”.
She told the BBC: “She is signing with the team to play in 2020 as the transfer window is currently closed for this season. She is part of the team.”
Semenya is not the first athlete to switch to football – after retiring in 2017, Usain Bolt trained with Norwegian club Stromsgodset and Australian side Central Coast Mariners, but did not secure a contract.
Semenya is also following in the footsteps of her former coach Maria Mutola, who also turned to football after athletics.
The IAAF introduced its rule change because it argues female athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) – such as Semenya – have “a competitive advantage”.
Athletes must either take testosterone-reducing medication in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile or change to another distance.