24 July 2018– Former South African U20 Women’s National Team player, Lucinda Bowers, was the only woman coach at the 2018 SAB League National Champs that ended on Sunday, 22 July 2018.

The week-long tournament took place in Umlazi near Durban, and was won by USSA who defeated Mpumalanga 2-1 in the final.

2017 champions Gauteng took third place after giving Limpopo a 7-1 drubbing in the battle for bronze.

Bowers was the head coach of the Northern Cape province where she hails from.

Unfortunately, they departed the competition in the first round after losing all four of their matches in the group stages and failed to collect any points.

They finished fifth, conceded the most goals (16) and scored the least goals (3).

At the inaugural tournament in 2009, Northern Cape reached the final of the SAB League National Champs, but lost to Free State.

Since then they have never progressed to the semi-finals.

We sat down with Bowers in Durban before they returned back to their province to give us an insight of how it feels like being part of the tournament, and what Northern Cape is doing wrong.

First of all, who is Lucinda Bowers?

I am from the Northern Cape. I was a player in my days and I started when I was around 13. I was at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria and I played for the South African U20 Women’s National Team (Basetsana). At some stage I was called up to the Banyana Banyana squad, at the time I was at the Tuks Academy. I then moved from Pretoria and headed for Cape Town where I continued with my studies, and that’s where I started coaching. I got my C Licence and also the B Licence, then last year I obtained my A Licence and I coached at the University of Cape Town (UCT) for a while. I actually coached an SAB ladies team before taking over the reigns at UCT. Now I am the Provincial Technical Officer – which is along the lines of the Technical Director of the Province – (Northern Cape). The reason I am here in Durban is that our Province has always been underdogs. So we come here to learn, we want to see as PTOs what is the reason our teams can’t compete or why we can’t succeed. When you see the results without watching the games, you will think NC is weak, but I believe we can compete as a province. From what I have seen here, when I go back to the province it’s a question how do we improve, how do we select players and which players to select, as that is very crucial.

Only woman coach in the tournament?

Actually I am getting all the attention because I am the only female here on the bench. Sometimes it is intimidating but it’s how you handle it as a person, I can work with it, there’s no stress for me.

Where does the love for coaching come from?

I wanted to be involved in football from a very young age. I used to go to games with my dad as well as my brother. So I have always wanted to make this game grow, especially in my province, and that is driving me every day. You don’t have to be a player only, because there are so many other things you can do in this game – refereeing, coaching, administration and more, but I am very interested in coaching, which I see as a way of teaching people. And that is where my passion lies – teaching people.

Coaching NC with assistance from former Orlando Pirates player, James Mothibi?

We have a good relationship even though it is the first time I work with him. As a former player, he has been there before, played at the highest level than where these boys are and it is good that he is here. We decided it was important to bring him along, because for the boys this is a big competition and he can talk to them from experience – when he gives advice it is because he has been there not something he read, so his experience is vital.

Are you not intimidated by coaching boys?

For me it is actually much better than coaching girls because you can shout at the boys and you can even tell them that they did not play well, so it is very easy with boys. Girls are very sensitive and emotional, you need to control the way you speak with them and there are barriers with girls. But it is also nice to coach girls, you just have to be patient.

How was the tournament for you? No win in four games.

You come out here and as a coach you want to motivate the team but the results come out differently, and we can’t look past the results when we want to improve. We are not happy with the outcome but it is important that we take lessons from here because this tournament it is a learning curve – you come out here and play, you lose, you learn, you go back and try to do things differently.

Where is the Northern Cape going wrong in these tournaments? Also not producing many players as before?

I know, we have one girl in Banyana Banyana (Chantelle Esau) but she doesn’t play in the Northern Cape anymore because the structures and the competitions are not as organised as in Johannesburg or Gauteng. We have good players but they move Gauteng for better opportunities The boys that we have now are suffering because of lack of coaching – we don’t have enough coaches, and if you go to grassroots we don’t have the structures especially in the U13 and U15 level. If you look at our Local Football Associations (LFA), there are only a few that play school football, so we need to start right at the bottom and work our way up. We can’t take a 14-year-old girl that has never been for grassroots development and put her in a Sasol League team, the gap is too big. Even the boys, need a lot of teaching – some of these boys here with us don’t have coaches, they come to a tournament and use their natural talent. But if we get coaches for them there will be a huge difference.

What have you learnt here?

I have learnt that the competition is very tough – it’s 90 minutes of play here. When our boys are out of season they don’t play or train, and with this tournament being out of season you don’t have control over what the players do. When you do your selections from the regions you find them not playing. Also, we have a long way to travel and when we get here we sometimes have to play two games a day, which can be very taxing. So in short, it is tough here.

How would you describe this tournament?

It is a brilliant idea, a great opportunity for the boys to showcase their talent and be scouted by PSL clubs, so they can make a living for themselves. And that is what is about – giving opportunities to the players to change their lives.

So what does the future hold for Lucinda?

Currently I am the PTO, so I am in the development side of it, I would like to educate people by giving them workshops, especially coaches to show them the way. That is my focus for the future, get everyone to understand that this is where we want to be as a province, or this is where we are going as a national team. At the moment I don’t have plans of being a national team coach but just to take the province to the next level in terms of coaching and competing in tournaments like these with some degree of success.

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Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !