Build­ing women’s soc­cer one Banyana at a time

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWA­GAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za

Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw be­lieves the es­tab­lish­ment of a do­mes­tic women’s pre­mier league will el­e­vate the game to the same level as its male coun­ter­part.

This, she says, is one of the key ob­ser­va­tions she has made in the five months she’s been in the job.

“A pre­mier league in South Africa is a real ne­ces­sity. There are al­ready good struc­tures in place for the na­tional team, which would not have ex­isted with­out our spon­sor Sa­sol,” Pauw told City Press dur­ing Banyana’s prepa­ra­tion for to­day’s friendly against Zam­bia in Lusaka.

The for­mer Nether­lands women’s na­tional team cap­tain said Banyana were shap­ing up well for the African Women’s Cham­pi­onships (AWC) in Namibia from Oc­to­ber 11 to 25.

“We are not ready yet, but we are on track. Firstly, we need to keep the play­ers fit and work on the play­ing strat­egy to get bet­ter. In a way, we are try­ing to squeeze a whole learn­ing process of three years into seven months.”

To­day marks ex­actly 52 days be­fore Banyana’s open­ing game against Cameroon at the Namibia tour­na­ment, where the three na­tions that fin­ish at the top will qual­ify for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Pauw said the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) was still in the process of fi­nal­is­ing a west African op­po­nent to build the team up for the African cham­pi­onships.

South Africa’s group in­cludes Ghana and Al­ge­ria.

“I am happy we will play Côte d’Ivoire [next month]. We hope to get one or two west African op­po­nents and, if not, we’ll be ready any­way – we play Zam­bia [to­day] and Tan­za­nia [on Au­gust 31].”

As Pauw (51) moulds Banyana, one of her em­ploy­ment con­di­tions from Safa is to de­velop lo­cal women coaches.

“The de­mands to get the team ready for the AWC are much higher than I ex­pected and I haven’t had enough time for the other coaches out­side the squad.

“We are try­ing to find a so­lu­tion with [act­ing] tech­ni­cal direc­tor Fran Hil­ton-Smith be­cause it doesn’t make sense to put em­pha­sis on the talk and not have enough at­ten­tion on the broader pic­ture.”

In a re­cent in­ter­view with City Press, Safa chief ex­ec­u­tive Den­nis Mum­ble said: “We need to fast-track the devel­op­ment of women coaches and put them through coach­ing cour­ses. We are now iden­ti­fy­ing for­mer Banyana play­ers to be­come coaches.

The coach al­ready has five for­mer Banyana play­ers who as­sist in her camps.

He added that South Africa’s bid for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup was based on build­ing the ca­pac­ity of the women’s game in the coun­try and rais­ing the stan­dard for the next five years.

Pauw said she had set­tled well in the coun­try and was re­ceiv­ing lessons from the play­ers to con­verse in lo­cal lan­guages.

“They try to teach me but I am strug­gling with the ‘Q’ [words]. Fur­ther than ‘sawubona, un­jani’, I don’t get it. Luck­ily, ev­ery­body speaks English very well,” she said.

Pauw is mar­ried to Bert van Lin­gen, the as­sis­tant coach of the Ser­bian na­tional men’s team.

PHOTO: TREVOR KUNENE

LAST­ING IM­PRES­SIONS Banyana Banyana play­ers Kgadi Mokoma (left) and Re­filoe Jane are ea­ger to im­press coach Vera Pauw

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