1 February 2019– Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, the 2018 CAF Women’s National Team Coach of the Year, as well as forward Thembi Kgatlana, the CAF Women’s National Player of the Year, who also won the CAF Goal of the Year, have been invited to the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The event takes place on Thursday, 7 February in Cape Town.

Ellis and Kgatlana will be the guests of the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, Mr Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa.

“2018 has been an amazing year, and so far 2019 has started with a bang not just for me but Banyana Banyana. What a better way to kick start this with an invite to one of the most sought-after events of the year. I really appreciate this honour of being at this prestigious gathering. Thank you very much to the President,” said Ellis.

“And this also comes hot on the heels of the President calling us personally and wishing us well ahead of the final of the 2018 Women’s AFCON in Ghana. Also, this is just after we recently had a tour of parliament while in Cape Town where our guide was telling us what transpires around the precinct, in particular about the SONA. I feel truly blessed and humbled.”

Ellis will however travel alone as Kgatlana already has prior club commitments on the day.

“On a different day, I would not have missed this for the world, but there are some pressing issues regarding my club that I have to attend to and it is not clear how long they will take, so unfortunately I will have to decline the invite. But thank you to the State President for the invitation, I am truly humbled by this gesture,” said Kgatlana.

The CAF Women’s National Team Coach of the Year award is an an historic win for the former Banyana Banyana captain. She also rewrote the history books by being the first person to win the COSAFA Women’s Championship as both player and coach, and lso the first individual to qualify the South African Women’s National Team to the World Cup.

Kgatlana is the second South African player to lift the CAF Woman Player of the Year after Noko Matlou in 2008.

This will be State President Ramaphosa’s second SONA.

Ends.

NB: The State of the Nation Address of the President of South Africa (abbreviated SONA) is an annual event in the Republic of South Africa, in which the President of South Africa reports on the status of the nation, normally to the resumption of a joint sitting of Parliament (the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces).

The speech marks the opening of the parliamentary year and is usually attended by important political and governmental figures of South Africa, including former Presidents, the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court and other members of the judiciary, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, and Ambassadors and Diplomats to the Republic. (source – wikipedia)

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