After serving as the interim coach for 18 months, it was finally decided to make it official by appointing Desiree Ellis as the permanent head coach of Banyana Banyana.
On Thursday, the South African Football Association (SAFA) made the announcement with SAFA president, Danny Jordaan, stating that Coach Ellis “fully deserves the appointment as she has come through all the ranks of our national teams.”
Coach Ellis says that she still cannot believe that it is really happening. “It has always been a dream of mine to be the head coach of Banyana Banyana. Nothing comes bigger than this. Being in the acting role since 2016 has probably prepared me for the most daunting task of them all in women’s football. I have always believed, and now it is a reality,” says Coach Ellis.
She says that she is thankful for the trust that SAFA has placed in her and she hopes to be instrumental in growing women’s football. “This appointment can only mean we are doing something right in women’s football, and I hope it becomes a symbol to many girls and women out there that if you dream it, you can live it. I will do the best of my ability to make sure we continue on growing this beautiful game,” says Coach Ellis.
During Coach Ellis’ tenure as interim coach, Banyana lifted the COSAFA trophy and was awarded the accolade of African National Women’s Team of the Year. The former Banyana captain also became the first South African to win the Cosafa Cup Championships as both a player and a coach. The team has played 15 matches under Coach Ellis, winning eight and drawing two. They have played twelve away and three home matches, scoring 27 goals and conceding 15.
For now however, she is aiming to achieve three main objectives, namely; to qualify for AFCON 2018, the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics. She believes that with all South African’s supporting Banyana, these objectives can be achieved. “2018 is going to be a great year for all of us. We have a lot of work ahead, but I am confident we will get to our destination, which is qualifying for the World Cup in France,” says Coach Ellis.
The team’s first task will be to compete in the Cyprus Women’s Cup. The team will be leaving for Cyprus today and will play their first match on Wednesday February 28 against Slovakia.