Safa must not only develop, encourage and support woman coaches in football; it must also show confidence in woman football, writes Cheryl Roberts. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu

There are great woman coaches waiting in the wings​

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 Olympics participation.

The SA Football Association (Safa) hasn’t made any attempts to ask Pauw to reconsider and stay on so who will Safa appoint to coach the 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 to guide Banyana through its participation in CAF’s (Confederation of African Football) women’s championship or should a permanent full-time head coach be appointed, so the new era starts now?

To get Banyana Banyana on 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 the 2016 Olympic champions: Germany wasted no time in announcing their head coach, soon after winning the gold medal.

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

Safa took the bold decision to appoint the first woman coach for Banyana Banyana when they appointed Pauw. Let it continue.

Safa must not only develop, encourage and support woman coaches in football; it must also show confidence in woman 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 if she’s South African, African or foreign? Yes.

While foreign coaches may be experienced and have already achieved internationally with attractive credentials in coaching women’s football, Safa has to start believing in South Africa’s home-grown, home-brewed woman football coaches.

Our woman coaches have played the game, done the coaching course, got the 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 woman coaches through courses; we must appoint women as national head coaches. Why should South Africa rely on foreign woman coaches when we have our own women?

Safa must look at black African woman coaches; there are many who are capable of coaching Banyana.

In an earlier opinion article, in trying to get some thought going on Banyana’s next coach, I put out the name of Sheryl Botes.

What about Desiree Ellis, Banyana’s assistant coach, under Pauw?

In a news report by 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 Ellis should be appointed Banyana head coach”.

In starting a new era for Banyana Banyana, Safa has to guard against retaining those “who were part of the Banyana mess”, says an official within Safa.

Will the players be satisfied with the appointment of Ellis as Banyana coach? Only time will tell!

Who else should be considered? There are qualified coaches like Maud Khumalo and Anna Monate, who have been undeservedly overlooked for national coaching positions.

They are also black African woman football coaches. There is also the qualified CAF A-licence 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, who 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 February as Banyana’s assistant coach?

Both have no baggage from the Pauw era. Both Mbuli and February are winning coaches. Put them in charge of Banyana Banyana.

Give a South African black woman a chance to coach Banyana Banyana. Also ensure she and her national team have all the support necessary to try to 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 woman coaches must be given the opportunity. A lot will also depend on Banyana Banyana’s passion to win.

* This letter was published on page 13 of The Star on September 20, 2016