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Wednesday, 24 April 2024

CPUT to confer honorary doctorate on Banyana coach

POSITIVE ROLE MODEL: Head coach of Banyana Banyana Desiree Ellis’ contribution to women’s sport and notably football has impacted positively on the aspirations of thousands of young women. POSITIVE ROLE MODEL: Head coach of Banyana Banyana Desiree Ellis’ contribution to women’s sport and notably football has impacted positively on the aspirations of thousands of young women.

Football legend, Desiree Ellis, the “humble and blessed” head coach of Banyana Banyana, reacted with enormous gratitude upon learning that CPUT has decided to award her an Honorary Doctorate in Sports Management.

“She [Ellis] epitomises women in sport participation, leadership, and business and she is a positive role model for all future CPUT graduates and especially Sport Management graduates,” says Prof Simeon Davies, Head of the Sports Management Department.

The ceremony on 25 April, will form part of CPUT’s Autumn Graduation series at which over 7000 students will graduate between 22 and 26 April 2024. The Western Cape native’s most recent notable achievements include winning the 2021 Women’s African Cup of Nations (WAFCON) in Morocco, which resulted in South Africa’s representation in the 2023 FIFA World Cup. This is only the second time Banyana Banyana qualified for a world cup and the first time the team qualified for the knock-out phase among the top 16 teams in the world. “These achievements speak volumes of Desiree’s leadership of the national team on a global scale,” Davies enthuses.

Reacting to the news, Ellis “was speechless for a moment and in complete awe”, and she is looking forward to the ceremony. “I am really excited and the fact that it’s in my home city makes it more special as my family can attend this special occasion and celebrate with me.”

Davies states that Ellis’ contribution to women’s sport and notably football has impacted positively on the aspirations of thousands of young women who now have a role model who has shown how a woman from humble beginnings can achieve success and recognition as a leader in the competitive world of professional sport. “Desiree’s success story means that many young females, could well emulate her accomplishments in their own careers, whether it be business, technology or public service.”

Ellis started playing competitive football from the age of 15, making the national team in 1993 as a vice-captain, and going on to captain the national team from 1994 to 2002.

Some of her immeasurable feats, accolades and acknowledgements include:

  • Four successive Cosafa Cup titles unbeaten (2017; 2018; 2019; 2020)
  • Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s Coach of the Year in 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023.
  • Order of Ikhamanga in Gold 2023
  • Two successive world cup appearances in 2019 & 2023 and the first South African senior national team to reach last 16.
  • Forbes Women Africa Sports Award 2024

Reflecting on Ellis glittering career, Davies, says: “Through hard work, persistence and her exceptional high standards Desiree Ellis has become a hero to many South Africans, and, because of her challenged upbringing, she especially relates to and inspires so many women in our disadvantaged communities.”

He adds that CPUT values excellence and the success of “our women’s national football team, Banyana Banyana under the leadership of the coach, Desiree Ellis, displays how her passion for excellence provided the foundation for success”. “We believe that her story from modest beginnings in Cape Town and her outstanding leadership on the global stage will inspire CPUT graduates to shape a better world for humanity.”

Ellis is “truly honoured, humbled and blessed, God is truly amazing”, by the latest individual recognition. “A big thank [you] to CPUT for honouring me. Please continue to create opportunities for other women, celebrate them and their achievements. continue to support and raise the profile of women.”

Ellis attributes her achievements to the support of her team and that is what keeps her going. “We always say it’s all about the team and if the team does well the individual will stand out. I work with a fantastic group of players, technical staff, and support staff and together we make it happen. The players are key role players, and they make us look good. A big thank you to SAFA and our sponsor, Sasol for their unwavering support.

She adds that her love and passion for the game and wanting to see women in football succeed and to raise the profile of women in sport also contributes to her successes.

Written by Aphiwe Boyce