On the Ball
Meet the PSL’s first female coach; new foreign player ruling explained; we catch up with former PSL topscorer Ishmael Maluleke
PLATINUM Stars have broken new ground in South African football with the appointment of coach Keleabetswe Diale to lead their MultiChoice Diski Challenge side this season. Diale gets her opportunity to coach the side having been elevated from assistant in the last campaign and becomes the first female to lead a South African club at either Premier Soccer League or reserve team level. Her appointment comes after spending the last five years in the Stars academy, bringing through many of the young players that will make up Dikwena’s MDC side this year. “I’m grateful that management has seen the potential in me; it’s a huge task, but I am very happy to take it on,” Diale tells KICK OFF. “I must thank Cavin Johnson for the role he has played in my career. “He gave me my first job in the academy in 2011. He invited me down to host a training session unprepared and obviously saw something in me. Since then I have been working hard to get my coaching qualifications and am up to SAFA Level I. “The experience with the MDC team this season will be huge in helping me advance my career.” Diale played as a defensive midfielder for a boys club, Lagoon FC in Phokeng, before moving to the Tshwane University of Technology and eventually playing in the Sasol League. But she always had an affinity for coaching and started at the Stars academy while still playing, before making the decision to try coaching full-time. She believes her familiarity with the Dikwena MDC players – and their knowledge of her coaching methods and philosophy – should make it an easier transition for everybody. “I have worked with most of these players since 2011, so they understand my methods and my approach to coaching. I believe there is a healthy respect there – they call me their ‘Mother Coach’. “I know it is a big challenge and a step up for me, but I was assistant last year and I understand what it takes to be successful in the MDC. I know I have the support of the players.” Diale admits her ultimate ambition is to one day coach in the PSL and feels that there is no reason why a female should not be given the opportunity if they come with the right qualifications and experience. “If club management believes in hard work and are committed to making appointments on merit, then why not? But as with any coach, I have to prove myself ready for the PSL and gain the necessary experience.” Diale says Johnson has been a mentor during her time at the club and he believes she has all the right attributes to coach at a high level, including the PSL, in future. “She has a great football brain and is very knowledgeable about the game,” he says. “This is just another step up the ladder for her. It is always going to be difficult for Keleabetswe in a male-dominated environment, and has been at times a challenge to coach young males who, you know, go through certain emotions at stages of their development. “But she has been very instrumental in getting the young players that we have promoted from our academy for this season into the first team and that is to her credit.” And Johnson says he hopes that one day she will make the next step and appear on the bench next to him in the PSL. “Maybe she will be the first female to coach a PSL team ... I hope one day that if she continues with her [footballing] education she will sit on the bench with me in the PSL. “We will give her all the support she needs to be successful. But remember that for us, success is not winning the MDC. It is about getting the team to compete in as many areas as possible, physically, technically and tactically – that is what we use to measure success.” Johnson says he hopes Diale will be an example to other women and believes the reason it has taken until 2016 for a female coach at this level is two-fold. “Firstly, I think generally women have not pushed themselves hard enough to get into the position that Keleabetswe finds herself in,” he says. “Secondly, I don’t think we have done enough to identify women with the qualities needed to succeed.” Diale recently completed a FIFA Instructor course that will allow her to teach coaching courses to other budding tacticians in future.
I KNOW I HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE PLAYERS.”