17 April 2023 – Senior Women’s National team coach Desiree Ellis said she was over the moon after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced her as one of the recipients of the country’s National Orders, The Order Of Ikhamanga.

The Banyana Banyana coach is one of the few nominated local and foreign nationals who will be awarded National Orders at an investiture ceremony to be held on 28 April 2023.

National Orders are the highest awards that the country bestows on its citizens and eminent foreign nationals who have contributed towards the advancement of democracy and have made a significant impact on improving the lives of South Africans.

The National Orders also recognise the contributions made by individuals towards building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa as envisaged in the country’s Constitution.

President Ramaphosa will bestow on deserving recipients the Order of Mendi for Bravery, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli, the Order of Mapungubwe and the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo.

The Order Of Ikhamanga recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport and coach Ellis has been bestowed this special recognition for her excellent contribution to football, a male-dominated sport. Her sustained excellence provides encouragement to women to excel in their respective fields of endeavour. 

Ellis said while one does the job to the best of one’s ability and not for awards, this particular recognition was one of the highlights of her career as a coach.

‘’I am super blessed but at the same time very emotional. Football is a team sport and this award is not about me but everyone who contributed to the success of Banyana Banyana, from the players, the technical staff as well as the back room staff.

‘’This could not have been possible without the solid support from the Association, especially the President and his team,’’ said an elated Ellis, who admitted this amazing honour bestowed on her had not sunk in yet.

‘’I am so happy because this is huge, getting this national honour is like getting knighthood,’’ she added.

Banyana Banyana won the AWCON to become African champions last year after beating hosts Morocco 2-1 and in the process qualified for the second successive FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this coming July.

Eillis was also voted CAF’s Women Coach of the Year for the third successive year.