Former Banyana Banyana player Kylie-Anne Louw has been recently appointed as an assistant coach by Northern Arizona University in the United States.
Louw left South Africa eight years ago (2009) on a study scholarship that also involved playing football. She has now graduated to coaching.
SAFA Media caught up with her from Arizona, USA.
Matlhomola Morake: Congratulations on your appointment, how do you feel?
Kylie-Anne Louw: I am so excited to be a part of this program and athletic department. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to grow within the game and help others grow and learn along the way.
MM: Let’s travel back on this wonderful journey of yours – where were you in your previous job and how different is it to this new appointment?
KL: My previous position was also listed as Assistant Coach and so the roles and responsibilities differ on the slightest level. However, this new position presents different and new challenges that I am excited to work through. The biggest difference of all would be now that I bring five years of coaching experience with me along with my playing experience.
MM: You left South Africa in 2009, what was the reason for that?
KL: I sought out an opportunity to play and study in the US. I contacted schools in Texas and was recruited to play at the Division 1 level. I left in 2009 to start my 1st year of University and 8 years later I have progressed from playing on the field to coaching on the sidelines.
MM: What have you been doing in the last eight years?
KL: I went to Stephen F Austin University in Texas, I played there for all 4 seasons (max allowed per athlete) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. I was then hired at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona as the Assistant soccer coach and I was there for almost five years. Now I have just joined Northern Arizona University as their top Assistant coach.
MM: By the way why football and not any other sport?
KL: Football has been a love of mine since birth. I dabbled in some other sports but football always came out on top. I loved it from the day I joined Randburg Football club at the ripe age of four years old. Football has always brought me happiness and I have found profound success in the sport. My dad was a great soccer player in his day so I must have got some good genes. My mom was a great athlete too so a combination of both of my parents set me up to be successful athletically, and with my passion and drive for the game, I could never imagine myself doing anything else.
MM: When did you stop playing and why?
KL: I officially stopped playing in February of 2013 after I had just accepted the position at the University of Arizona. The job was extremely time consuming and I found that I couldn’t keep up with the fitness and training demands that is required to play at the highest level. My focus shifted from continuing to be a successful player to now becoming a successful coach. The financial security at the time prompted the decision to commit fully to my job at the time. I miss playing everyday but I am grateful that I still get to be on the pitch daily with young aspiring players on a constant basis. It re-energizes the soul for me.
MM: You must be excited with this…..
KL: I will be putting all my efforts into this position and contributing to the success of the team and program. There is no immediate next move but I aspire to be a Head Coach in the future – I am continuing to build my repertoire to be a successful one at that.
MM: Was coaching always part of your plan? How did the move come about?
KL: Coaching wasn’t necessarily part of the plan but I knew I had so much love for the game that I would’ve found it extremely difficult to part ways in any facet. I started considering it as an option for a career during my last year of college. I knew my time would be coming to a close with the University as a player and I struggled to find anything that was remotely close to how much I enjoyed being on the field. That’s when coaching became a real possibility for me.
MM: How would you compare the players you are working with now with South African players?
KL: The biggest difference for me would be the development opportunities available overseas are greater and more easily accessible. There is a great standard of coaching overseas and youth development is structured and implemented in almost every city. Another difference would be that the players I work with now are under a lot of pressure to perform as most of them are awarded athletic scholarships to play. A soccer scholarship that we as coaches award players with comes with an expectation and standard of performance. This makes players more driven and dedicated to the sport as individuals but also how they contribute to the team.
MM: What has been your biggest achievement in football (soccer) so far, as a coach?
KL: In my third year at Arizona, we advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Championship tournament. This was a massive feat for our team as it was only the second time in history that the team had reached such an achievement.
MM: Any great memories in a Banyana Banyana shirt?
KL: I have so many to mention but the 2012 London Olympic Games stick out greatly in my mind because of the strides that Banyana Banyana had taken to qualify for the tournament. It took many weeks and months of intense preparation and training to be ready to play at the highest level and walking out on the field for our first game in the Olympics is a feeling that is indescribable and one you can just never forget.
MM: What is your biggest ambition – to coach at a higher league in the US or even coach Banyana Banyana some day?
KL: Absolutely, my aspirations are extremely high. Not only coaching at different leagues in the US but being a coach that coaches teams that compete for National Championships is the ultimate success for me. My biggest ambition in life as a coach is to make a huge impact and difference in players and a team at any level I coach – whether at the collegiate level or the National level. The ambition for me always is to win every game my team plays.
MM: We have South African players who have recently moved abroad (some have been there for a while) the likes of Janine, Andisiwe – how will such moves helps the National Team?
KL: From an experience standpoint, I think it helps a huge amount. Experience is an aspect of a player that cannot be manufactured, so players that play overseas face very different challenges and adversity that push them to grow and be better players. They learn different aspects of the game and are taught different tactics and techniques of playing the beautiful game. The more you know, the better you will be and that is why I think playing overseas for at least a period of time will contribute in massive amounts to the development of any player. It is very exciting and I am so proud of the players that played in my era that are playing at the highest stage, it shows that hard work really does pay off.
MM: Your words of encouragement to players or coaches that are inspired by your incredible journey…..
KL: To be successful at the elite level, you have to be elite. This requires you to develop more, learn more, commit more and be more than the person next to you. Those that are successful are those that strive to exceed expectations and put in the work required to be different. If you want it, go get it. If you want to be a player that plays at the highest level it is up to you to make it happen, do everything in your power to get yourself there. Coaches should always strive to be creative and inventive in how they approach training and instruction. Once players understand the “why” of what you’re asking them to do, the better they will understand the requirements. Be a great teacher.
Kylie-Anne Louw Fact File:
- Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Spent the last four years as the women’s soccer assistant coach for the University of Arizona.
- Louw graduated from Tuks Combined School in Pretoria in 2006.
- Played as a striker at her high school team.
- Honoured as the Player of the Year and Coaches’ Player of the Year in her senior season.
- Played for Banyana Banyana where she competed in the 2012 London Olympics.
- Went on to compete at the Division I level at Stephen F. Austin University (SFA) where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in 2012.
- Was the school’s all-time leader in points with 96 and in assists with 42 matches.
- Louw helped the Ladyjacks win two Southland Conference regular season titles in 2011 and 2012 and the SLC tournament championship in 2012.
- In her four years at SFA, in addition, to her play with the National Team, she has garnered multiple accolade.
- In addition, Louw was also involved in youth soccer, in Texas, coaching for Nacogdoches Soccer Club, Nacogdoches Academy Soccer Clinic and instructing private lessons.