The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has appointed Banyana Banyana assistant coach Thinasonke Mbuli as the new head coach of its women’s football team. Her appointment has been hailed as “a transformation success story” for the institution.
Mbuli, who is also the head coach of the University Sport South Africa (USSA) women’s football team, has signed a three-year contract with UWC, taking over from Nathan Peskin whose contract expired at the end of 2018.
UWC Sports Director, Mandla Gagayi, said her appointment is in line with Goal 6 of UWC's Institutional Operation Plan 2016 – 2020 - “Enhancing UWC's Standing and Profile”. He said she will undoubtedly strengthen women’s football at the University. “This is also a transformation success for UWC and UWC Sport because we believe women must be given opportunity, space, authority and power to take charge of their sport,” Gagayi said.
Mbuli is from Piet Retief in Mpumalanga and brings a wealth of experience to the University. In addition to her appointment as the Banyana Banyana assistant coach in 2017 and being the head coach of the USSA women’s team since 2016 - duties that she does on a part-time basis - she helmed the University of KwaZulu-Natal women’s football team since 2016. She has also served as the coach of her alma mater - Durban University of Technology - where she obtained her degree is sports management.
Gagayi noted that many women's football teams have come to recognise the need for women as coaches. “It would, therefore, be unfortunate if UWC, as one of the leading universities in football, was left behind.”
Mbuli joins UWC at an exciting time after UWC Ladies FC earned a spot in the National Women’s League – South Africa’s first professional women’s league which is set to be established in April.
She cited the rich history of the institution, the good stature of the women’s team and its ambitions among the factors that attracted her to the job. “UWC has a good women’s team which has always finished in the top four at USSA games. For me this is a new challenge in a new province and in a new environment, and I’m excited and looking forward to it.”
“As a new coach,” she added, “I don’t want to put pressure on the team and start promising trophies. But I can safely say the quality and the brand of football we will dish out is one that the University community will be proud of, and I believe that good football results will come on their own.”
Mbuli played as a midfielder for various local clubs in KwaZulu-Natal, including Durban Ladies FC and Sunflower Women’s FC. She has also represented USSA at the Students World Games in South Korea in 2003 and in Turkey two years later. “It was then that I noticed I can make a career out of football,” she said.
The University has produced several stellar soccer stars including African Woman Footballer of the Year, Thembi Kgatlana.
UWC alumna and Banyana Banyana veteran star midfielder, Leandra Smeda, has signed her second professional football contract with Swedish top league side Vittsjo GIK this month.
Other UWC representatives in the Banyana team are former UWC Ladies FC goal minder, Kaylin Swart, who is with Menlo College in the US, while Lamar University (US) star Kelso Peskin and striker Jermaine Seoposenwe of JVW FC in Johannesburg complete the UWC-associated players represented in the Banyana team.
Picture credit: Harriet Box