Born: 20 June 1983
Portia was born in the famous township of Soweto in Johannesburg, south of Johannesburg. The only daughter in a family with two brothers, she began playing soccer with the boys from her neighbourhood at an early age. While it was quite uncommon for a girl to play soccer at the time, she chose it over netball at school.
Soon after joining the school soccer team, she began to play club football for a local team called The Soweto Rangers at the Under-10 level. After some years with the Rangers and a couple of seasons with the Jomo Cosmos women’s team, she went on to represent the Soweto Ladies in 1996. During the 2001-2002 seasons, Portia managed to score an unbelievable tally of 51 goals, which attracted the attention of overseas football clubs. In 2003 she was invited to attend trials for the Arsenal women’s team in England, but despite having impressed the coaches, she could not sign a contract with the team due to funding and sponsorship disputes.
In June of 2007, Portia travelled to Denmark and played for a club called Fortuna Hjorrinn under a one-month contract. Fortunately for her, the manager of the team was impressed by her and went on to offer her a two-year contract with the club. When she returned to South Africa, Portia signed a six-month contract with Palace Super Falcons, which was later extended.
National Team Career
Portia started playing for the South African national team in her teen years. While she was playing for the Under-19 team, she was also named captain of the squad before moving on to play for the senior squad, Banyana Banyana. Portia was nominated for the Women’s FIFA World Player of the Year, but unfortunately she lost against Germany’s Birgit Prinz. At the 2006 Women’s African Football Championship she was named Player of the Championship. Following a fall-out with her coach of the time in 2008, Modise announced her resignation from national duty.
After SAFA sacked the coach, the newly appointed coach recalled Portia. In October of 2014, she achieved something that has eluded many international footballers – the 100th goal milestone. Her award at the SA Sports Awards ceremony followed this incredible achievement, where she won 2014 Sport Star of the Year.
Portia Modise is currently playing for Croesus Ladies in Johannesburg, South Africa.
By Sizwe Shabalala