By Moroke Bojosi
Football Writer, kick442.com-South Africa.
The years of wait are finally gone as the 2019-2020 football season marked the beginning of a new era in women’s football in South Africa.
Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies sail through unperturbed conquering all opponents to claim the first ever crown in the South African women’s championship.
South Africa is now counted amongst the African nations with an active women’s championship.
Coach Jerry Tshabalala’s Mamelodi ended tge season without dropping points cruising pass all opponents to finish as champions.
Our South Africa-based reporter Moroke hooked up with the gaffer who masterminded the smooth success of the historic Mamelodi Sundowns Sundowns team this season.
Kick442.com:Congratulations again Coach.
When did your overall football journey begin and what motivated you the most about football participation ?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: Thanks Moroke, we achieved this feat as a team and a big thanks must go my technical team and the players.
It started an early age of six when I was still playing in the dusty street of the village called Phahameng in Qwaqwa Free state. Coaching fully started after hanging my boots in 2008. I was played for Tembisa black Pirates which was coached by former Tembisa classic player Martin Matsitela. He then asked me to come help him as his assistant coach, I welcomed it with both hands. Then early 2010, I got an SOS from Detroit Ladies from Mpumalanga asking me to come coach them, that’s where my journey begin as a women’s football coach.
Kick442.com: How difficult or easy was the transition to coach women?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: Fortunate enough it wasn’t that difficult, I had to adjust myself very quick and I didn’t change much from what we used to do with the boys. I also applied the same methods used with the boys hence our team was very good technically and tactically.
Kick442.com: What have been the biggest challenges you have faced since coaching?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: This question hey, you know coaching women’s it’s always a challenge on its own. They are very sensitive human beings and you have to be very patient with them. Everything that you do with them it has to be very detailed and one need to understand them, you also need to be very careful with them when is that time of the month don’t expect the same performance from them.
In addition, it’s very bad as a coach and the team you prepare during the week hoping to play over the weekend only to find that the team you were supposed to play doesn’t pitch for the game.
Furthermore, with ladies it’s very hard to find young players who are passionate about playing football, we don’t have too much pool of players to select from compare to the boys.
Kick442.com: Mamelodi Sundowns FC is a brand and has immense history, thus even individuals hired are of a high calibre no matter which division in the club. Could you take us back to the start of your journey with the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: So true Mamelodi Sundowns is a huge brand. When the late Brian Dube passed on who was the then ladies team head coach. Fortunate enough few of the players I used to coach at Luso Africa had left for Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies. Those players recommended me to management, funny part was that there were three coaches who applied for the post including myself. I was called in to come train the team on a Wednesday, while the other two coaches were also given a chance to train the team on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, after all the coaches trained the team the management called in the players to ask them which coach would they prefer to be their coach. Luckily the girls opted for the coach who trained them on Wednesday which was me that’s how I became the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies team head coach.
Kick442.com: The Sasol League helped formalize women’s football, how important has it been in your view?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: The Sasol League has played a huge role in formalizing the current league. It has given so many young talented players and coaches an opportunity to showcase their talent. Most of us we wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t of the Sasol League , it made us realize our dreams to be the so-called professional coaches. We managed to put food on the table because of Sasol League our kids are at school because of the opportunity Sasol League gave us. Most players are bread winners at their respective families because of Sasol League.
For me to reward Sasol League, I only put petrol in my car at any Sasol fuel garage because I know what they are doing for the surrounding communities.
Kick442.com: Definitely, the launch of SAFA National Women’s League saw the professionalization of the Women’s game, what were you impressed by most and what do you still think needs to improve, as the country continues to grow the game locally?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: Competitiveness amongst the teams really impressed me and the coaching staff of the teams they did well seeing them trying to improve their teams on a regular basis. Types of tactics applied in different games really shows that they learnt everyday.
I honestly think the administration of the league needs to improve drastically, at the national league we can’t still be having walkovers due to lack of communication with the leagues administration.
Kick442.com: True, and how would you describe your team’s total domination, you set record after record?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: It wasn’t an easy feat to achieve but through communication, discipline, dedication and determination we managed to achieve it.
The beginning of the season I sat down with the players and clearly outlined what we needed to achieve for first round, we had a target to collect 31 points for the first round. Luckily we collected 33 then we reviewed our progress and set a new one for second round which was 54
points. Each and every game and at training I’d remind them of our target so we communicated this on a regular basis.
In addition Discipline;
The team was so disciplined from training until the games, just to prove that we played the entire season without collecting a single red card. That’s how discipline the players were and they knew that we needed each other for the entire season.
The players would start training thirty minutes early to work on their weaknesses without being pushed by the coach that shows dedication at its best.
Determination is another factor;
After realising that we managed to reach our first round target the players were once more determined that whatever they achieved for first round they can achieve in the second round that shows how determined they were and indeed they achieved that.
Do have a message for players, staff and fans during this difficult time the world is facing in relation to the pandemic Covid19?
Coach Jerry Tshabalala: I would like to take this opportunity to thank the supporters who really rallied behind the team during our league games. We have never ever seen so much support from them and we really appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts. To my players and technical team let’s keep on working hard and looking forward to defend our title though it’s not going to be an easy feat but we can do it.
During this difficult time of Covid-19 may we all be disciplined and guided by the rules and regulations given by our authorities. Let’s protect ourselves by washing our hands, keeping social distance and wearing our masks so we can flattern the curve and come back very strong to enjoy our lives again.
24 August 2019 will go down in history as the day it all started for the national women’s championship in South Africa.
The Sundowns ladies won the league with two games to spell and the side ended the season unbeaten. The Brazilians amassed 66 points from 22 matches.
Tshwane University of Technology and Bloemfontein Celtic ladies ended the season in the second and third spot respectively.
The ball has been set ruling and coach Jerry’s girls have written their names in the history books of South African Football.
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