On the Ball

Kick Off - - Contents - By Nick Said

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.”

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