More than 80 women have attended soccer coaching workshops hosted by Discovery Vitality and the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) in South Africa this year, a notable increase from the 34 women who attended over the same period in 2011, and points to a growing interest in soccer amongst schoolgirls and women in the country.
First introduced to South Africa by Discovery in 2010, the KNVB workshops are aimed at teaching South Africa’s youth soccer coaches proven age-specific techniques and methods of coaching by world-renowned Dutch coaches. As world leaders in youth football development, the KNVB are ideal partners to bring these workshops to the South African soccer community.
KNVB workshop attendee and Hyde Park High girls’ soccer team coach, Shana Power, says she has witnessed a significant rise in the number of girls playing soccer over the past few years. “The fact that we are able play a match against different schools every week is a strong indication of the growth in women’s soccer,” she says.
Power is one of the proponents of this growth. In primary school she was the only girl in the boys’ soccer team. She played soccer in the boy’s team until 2007 – she was in Grade 8, when she started a girls’ soccer team at Hyde Park High. She is now a qualified personal trainer and a soccer and hockey coach at the same school.
“I believe more women should become involved in soccer, not only because it’s a great game, but to prove they can compete in any sport. Lots of women love the game, but don’t play because of the stereotyping that comes with it. My aim is to eliminate this stereotyping and encourage women to play the sports they are passionate about,” says Power.
A rise in awareness of the health benefits of sport is on Power’s side. “This awareness is prompting ordinary people to pursue daily sporting activities. I am excited about this growth because coaches and personal trainers can add enormous value to this process if their skills are harnessed effectively,” says Power.
Power attended a KNVB workshop to improve herself as a coach and positively contribute to women’s soccer as a whole. “I gained new insight into the strategy of the game and was able to walk away with ideas on how to communicate with the players as a whole and individually,” she says.
Another course attendee, Nomsa Mswane, who is a life orientation tutor and soccer and cricket coach at Sandile Primary School in Kagiso, says the KNVB workshop was useful from a practical skills point of view. “I learned valuable practical skills I intend to transfer to the children I coach,” she says.
Mswane has been in the teaching profession for 18 years and believes sport is an excellent way of transferring a host of skills to the country’s youth. “In addition to promoting physical fitness, sporting activities teach children how to be goal oriented, to work in teams and to solve problems. The earlier they start learning these skills, the better chance they have to leading healthy and productive lives in the future,” she says.
Discovery’s Head of Vitality Wellness, Dr Craig Nossel says the KNVB workshops form part of the Vitality Schools programme, which was introduced in 2008 to promote fitter and healthier lifestyles amongst South Africa’s youth.
“It is wonderful to see these ideals being embraced by coaches from around the country, who understand the inherent benefits of sport in promoting overall health and wellness,” he says.