One of the highlights of the just-concluded Hollywoodbets Super League season was the chance to see the impressive woman coaching talent on show.
While football has long been considered a man’s sport in South Africa, this is slowly changing, though women coaches are still outnumbered by their male counterparts (only five in 14 teams) in the women’s top league in the country.
Nevertheless, women coaches made their mark in the league, as three of them finished in the top four.
Simphiwe Dludlu of Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Thinasonke Mbuli of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Ciara Picco of JVW Girls Football Development staked their claims with second, third and fourth positions, respectively.
Ma-Indies coach Rhulani Mathebula and Anna Monate of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) rounded off the top 10 with eighth and ninth places, respectively.
According to Monate, who left TUT in August for UJ, the gender imbalance in coaching does not augur well for the industry.
She says that, despite the strides made, more needs to be done to promote women coaches, who are largely ignored.
“Although this is the case, I can’t fathom why women aren’t allowed to coach football at all levels," she said, adding:
Monate, who arrived at UJ when it was in 12th place, was able to rescue them and push them up to ninth position. She was unbeaten in all six of her first matches.
After Monate left TUT, Betty Maseko stepped in as an interim coach for three matches between August 22 and September 4, before Dludlu took over on September 18.
Dludlu won eight games, drew two and lost one, cementing her authority as one of the best women coaches in the country, with TUT finishing as runners-up to champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The first time Ma-Indies coach Mathebula stepped into the dugout was on June 19, in a game played away against the Durban Ladies. It was a baptism of fire, as her début was a disaster, ending in a 5-1 loss.
Mathebula managed to earn 20 out of 58 possible points, despite her limited resources.
UWC’s Mbuli, who inherited the team in the 2019/20 season, helped them progress from sixth to third place this season.
With 16 goals conceded, UWC had the second-best defensive record in the league after Sundowns’ 14 goals.
Mbuli is also Banyana Banyana’s assistant coach.
With newcomer JVW making a splash in the league, Picco had a fairy tale start to the season, winning all three of her first matches. Her star-studded team also produced the top scorer in the league, Mpumi Nyandeni, who won 27 goals.