25 April 2018– The South African U17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana) has assembled for a training camp in Johannesburg.
This is the first of many camps for the squad in preparation for the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, which South Africa has qualified for.
The tournament takes place in Uruguay from 13 November to 1 December.
The players are hard at work at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto campus under the watchful eye of head coach Simphiwe Dludlu and her assistant Maud Khumalo.
They assembled for camp on Sunday, 22 April and have already held a couple of training sessions.
“Surprisingly they are looking sharp, which tells me they have gone through the pre-season training at their clubs, though the standard is not where I would like it to be but it gives me something to work with. The good thing is they still know how we want them to play and what is what is expected of them” said Dludlu.
As this is the first camp since they last played in February, Dludlu says the focus has shifted.
“We just want to get a sense of where is the standard is and where is the mindset. Do they still know why they are in camp? But other than that is for us to start profiling for the world cup – that is to see individual players, and how can we improve as a group,” added the former Banyana Banyana defender and captain.
“We won’t be able to do everything now at once, it’s about periodization. It’s almost like turning every stone to see where each player is at because we have a bit more time compared to the pressures of playing qualifiers.”
The challenge is getting the players in camp as they are still of school-going age.
“We want to take advantage of long weekends and holiday because we don’t want them away from school too much. But so far the calendar that we have is one that accommodates them and we also have external programmes that we have devised for them to take home,” said Dludlu.
“And we also want to give as many players a chance, especially those that did not play in the qualifiers or were not selected. We are looking for the best players that will be able to represent the nation at the highest level. The door is not closed on anyone because I must at least be looking at a squad of 35 and trim it down to the required number going to the world cup,” concluded Dludlu.
On Tuesday, 24 April Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis as well as Molefi Ntseki, head coach of the South African U17 Men’s National Team, visited the squad at their training venue.
The training camp is expected to end on Saturday, 28 April.
This is Bantwana’s second FIFA World Cup qualification. The last time was in 2010.