Who Will Coach South Africa’s National Women’s Football Team Banyana Banyana? By Cheryl Roberts

15 Sep

Banyana Banyana, South Africa’s national women’s football team needs a head coach and assistants to be appointed. Banyana’s first woman coach was the foreigner, the Dutch coach Vera Pauw. She resigned after the team’s 2016 Rio Olympics participation.

SAFA hasn’t made any attempts to ask Pauw to reconsider and stay on as head coach of Banyana. Who will SAFA appoint to coach South Africa’s national women’s football team?

That a head coach must be appointed is not disputed. The timing is imperative. Should a caretaker coach be appointed in the interim to guide Banyana through participation in CAF’s African women’s football championship or should a permanent full-time head coach be appointed, so the new era starts now?

To get Banyana Banyana onto the road again, a full-time head coach, entrusted with the coaching and management of Banyana should be done now. There should be no delays. Let’s take our cue from champions, 2016 Olympic champions, Germany wasted no time in announcing their head coach, soon after winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

Does gender and colour matter? Should Banyana’s head coach be woman or man, black or black African or white?

SAFA took the correct and bold decision to appoint the first woman coach for Banyana Banyana when they appointed Vera Pauw. Let this continue; that is, a woman coaching the national women’s team.

SAFA must not only develop, encourage and support women coaches in football; they must also show confidence in women football coaches and appoint them. So a woman coach must serve as head coach of Banyana Banyana.

Who should this coach be? Does it matter that she’s South African, African or a foreign coach? Yes, it does matter. While foreign coaches may be very experienced and have already achieved internationally with attractive credentials in coaching women’s football, SAFA has got to start believing in South Africa’s home grown, home brewed women football coaches. Our women football coaches have played the game, done the coaching course, got the coaching certificate and are waiting patiently in the wings. Now they must be supported and valued. Give a South African woman the head coach position because we must not only develop elite women coaches in sport through coaching courses; we must appoint women as national head coaches. Why should South Africa rely on foreign women coaches when we have our own women waiting for opportunities?

Who should that South African woman coach be appointed to guide Banyana Banyana? SAFA has several highly qualified women football coaches. SAFA must look at the Black African women coaches; there are many of them capable of coaching Banyana.

In an earlier opinion article, in trying to get some thought going on Banyana’s next coach, I put out there the name of SAFA’s first highest woman coach, Sheryl Botes. It appears that Botes is not in the running for the Banyana appointment. Botes’ tenure at SAFA’s high performance youth training centre, coaching girls and young women footballers at an expense of R6million a year, has not yielded the desired results. Many are questioning Botes’ abilities and capabilities given that she had resources and a fulltime appointment but couldn’t get SA to the u17 girls and u20 women world cups.

What about Desiree Ellis, Banyana’s assistant coach, under coach Vera Pauw? In a news report by award winning journalist, Busisiwe Mokwena, it was pointed out that ‘some Banyana players were happy to see Pauw resign as Banyana coach’. The article went on to say that Banyana players ‘didn’t think Desiree Ellis should be appointed Banyana head coach.’

In starting a new era for Banyana Banyana SAFA has to guard against retaining those before ‘who were part of the Banyana mess’, says an official within SAFA. Will the players be satisfied with the appointment of Desiree Ellis as Banyana coach? Only time will indicate this!

Who else should be considered? There’s qualified coaches, Maud Khumalo and Anna Monate, who have been undeservedly overlooked for national coaching positions of Banyana Banyana. They are also black African women football coaches. There’s also qualified CAF A license coach, Marion February who has successfully won the SA u19 girls football championship. And then there’s rising star, Thinasonke Mbuli, coach of the SA tertiary women’s football team that has coached on international football stages and achieved positive results. Mbuli will come in with no baggage from the Vera Pauw era and will proceed under starter’s orders on her own terms.

So how about appointing Thinasonke Mbuli as Banyana Banyana’s head coach and Marion Febraury as Banyana’s assistant coach? Both have no baggage from the Vera Pauw era. Both Mbuli and February are winning coaches. Put them in charge of banyana Banyana!

Banyana Banyana starts a new era. This must be a time when Banyana matures and wins African championships and improves significantly their world ranking. It’s also a time when Banyana must play much higher ranked ranked international opponents outside of Africa. The women football coaches are there; they exist, waiting to be appointed.

Give a South African black woman a chance to coach Banyana Banyana. Also ensure she and her national team has all the support necessary to try and achieve. At this juncture, SAFA doesn’t know which particular woman football coach will turn around Banyana’s winning and goal scoring fortunes. What SAFA does know is that there are women football coaches who must be given the opportunity and be supported to achieve. A lot will also depend on Banyana Banyana’s passion to succeed and win.

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