South African coach Shilene Booysen has embarked in a unique adventure in South Sudan, hoping to develop the women’s national team into a competitive unit in the coming years, having started essentially from scratch. South Sudan only played their first international fixture in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic has, to a certain extent, curtailed their international opportunities since then. But Booysen, who forged an excellent reputation as an analyst with Banyana Banyana and Houston Dash in the United States, sees it as a calling and says that while the road ahead may be bumpy, it is exciting times for the country.
“There is huge potential in South Sudan, I am convinced of that,” she told The COSAFA Show. “There is the talent, but it is about putting in place the right structures for the national team to grow.
“That will take time, we are under no illusions of that, but we have seen progress already in just a few months and it is exciting for the future.”
The team is competing at the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay and lost their opener 7-0 to Botswana. But Booysen says it is not so much about results at this stage of their development, but more gaining experience for a team that have played just a handful of internationals.
“We do not look so much at the results right now, but I was very happy with the fight from my team against Botswana (after being 6-0 down at half-time). “It is about the players working to the plan and showing that they can implement the things we want them too. This will not happen overnight, but in the years ahead.”
You can hear the full interview on this episode of The COSAFA Show, where Booysen also discusses her time with Banyana Banyana, Houston Dash, and her unorthodox entry into coaching.
Note: The player defaults to low for the smallest possible download size. You can adjust it to various qualities, which will change the file size. You can listen to it now, or download the show and listen to it whenever you want.