Coach Thinasonke Mbuli says the University’s participation in a proposed national professional league will give UWC even more pulling power to lure the cream of South Africa’s top female football talent to Bellville. Mbuli, who is also a Banyana Banyana assistant coach as well as the coach of the USSA women’s football team, is a bit of a drawcard herself, having worked with some of the country’s best players over the last few years.
“We have done very well in terms of recruitment over the last few years. The players recognise that UWC gives them the best of both worlds in terms of education and sport,” the popular coach says. “But now that the pro league is just around the corner, we will probably see more players looking to play their football at UWC. It’s a great situation for us to be in and it will only make us stronger.”
Mbuli believes the league, which is meant to kick off in August — although everybody involved is still waiting for confirmation from the South African Football Association (SAFA) — will boost Banyana even more following a rude awakening at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. After making the final of AFCON in 2018, Banyana lost all three of their group matches at the showpiece event in France.
“For any country to keep producing quality players, they have to compete at the highest level. The national league will be the highest level of football in South Africa,” she says. “The difference between us and the rest of the world is we don’t have a professional league set-up. If we can get our players playing highly competitive games week-in and week-out, we can reach that next level.
“If you look at the teams who were in our group — Germany, Spain and China — they all have a pro league in their country.”
This article was first published in the Women's Month special edition of the Blue and Gold - UWC Sports' official magazine. Read the full magazine here. Images: Courtesy of Harriet Box