1 July 2019 – Sitting pretty in the top half of the Western Cape Sasol league, Santos FC have had to overcome early obstacles to mount any sort of challenge for title honours this season.

Proudly representing the Cape Town region, the club had to think on their feet and even had to employ a new coach at the last minute before even contemplating competing in the new single-stream system.

Safa.net caught up with the team’s general manager Ilhaam Dramat, who is a former footballer herself and has been involved in the sport for decades. She also doubles as the GM for the men’s ABC Motsepe team of the same name.

Commenting on those initial challenges, Dramat lamented the set-backs but never gave up.

“We had a really tough start. Our coach left us as well as some of the players. It is a truly tough challenge maintaining a women’s team. We persevered and recruited a few very young girls who have proven to be easy to work with and take instructions well, be it fitness, tactical or technical-related,” said Dramat.

Eventually things started to work out for the club.

“Our goalkeeping coach for the ABC Motsepe League team, Anthony Donwa, implored us to hire him as he coached women in Nigeria previously. We searched social media and had many interviews but he seemed to be the right fit. The girls adapted and formed a close relationship with him. He is passionate and responsible,” she said.

On her role as GM, Dramat’s journey has been one of hard work and determination in a male-dominated sport.

“I have been at Santos since 2010. I decided to give up my playing days as the Sasol League is very competitive and you rather leave it to the youngsters. I ventured into the office setting and began with marketing. I enjoy being in administration now as it is a nice challenge. With very little finances to work with, you have to strategize how to get around this and think harder in order to meet objectives. I do have a good support structure though which makes my job easier.”

She also added that the club’s goal is for the young girls to grow with the club so that they can build steadily towards the national league. They do however plan to win the current league in order for that to happen. With the likes of Miche Minnies playing in the U17 Women’s World Cup, the team must be doing something right.

Dramat also shed some light on exactly why women’s football is vital for the overall game.

“I am the only women amongst men but have earned my respect and feel important. Women’s football is actually more important. With limited resources, Banyana Banyana qualified for the world cup and inspired young girls. The more we are exposed to the game,  the better we will become. The ladies game has little money but we still push and this proves we are in it for the love of the game. We need more sponsors and television exposure too” concluded Dramat.