Cape Town-born Shilene Booysen is the type of person who never shies away from a challenge.
Her first overseas stint was when she was appointed the Performance Analyst and assistant coach of American side Houston Dash where former Banyana Banyana Head Coach Vera Pauw was in charge.
Next was a move that no one expected when Booysen was named in charge of the South Sudan Senior Women’s National Team, where she stayed for two years.
Also on her well-decorated CV is being a Performance Analyst for the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, and was part of the squad that won Silver CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana in 2018, and also helped the South African Senior Women’s National Team to their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification in 2019 working alongside the duo of Head Coach Desiree Ellis and assistant coach Thinasonke Mbuli.
She has also played the same role at Bafana Bafana under Stuart Baxter.
More recently, the former goalkeeper took up another challenge – accompanying Banyana Banyana to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as a Technical Advisor – and saw the African Champions make history by not only winning a match in the tournament, but also progressing to the Round of 16 for the first time ever.
It was after that competition that she made her latest move – assuming Head Coach duties at Egyptian club Wadi Degla Ladies.
“I am delighted to have been appointed as the lead coach of the Cairo team, Wadi Degla Clubs Company S.A.E This is an absolutely remarkable achievement because it makes me the first ever foreign head coach to be appointed to lead in Egypt’s Women’s Premier League. I am also set to lead the team as it targets a league title and a Champions League qualification for the upcoming season. This adds on to my previous exciting position as technical advisor to the South African Women’s team during their fruitful FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 campaign this Summer. I am definitely excited to take on this new position and steer the team to greater heights,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
She follows on the footsteps of the well-respected former Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana Head Coach, Pitso Mosimane who was previously on the books of African giants Al Ahly, before moving to other adventures.
The move also comes hot on the heels of compatriot, Simone Conley, who was appointed as the biokineticist and conditioning coach for Al Ittihad Ladies in the Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. The team plays in the Saudi Women’s Pro League.
Wadi Degla are 12-time champions of Egyptian Women’s Football and boast millions of members across various sporting disciplines.
Booysen is well aware of the gigantic challenge ahead of her as she spoke to CentreCircle.online from Cairo where she has started to settle down, and will rely heavily on her experience in the USA, South Sudan and Banyana Banyana.
The club has not qualified for this year’s CAF Women’s Champions League which is currently underway in Cote d’Ivoire – a tournament they hosted in 2021 (which was the inaugural edition) but failed to get out of the group after finishing in third place. It was won by Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies.
The club plays in the Egyptian Women’s Premier Division.
Since putting pen to paper at Wadi Degla, her phone has been going off the hook with messages of well wishes and support, and even her social media has been inundated with congratulatory notes.
“Support has poured in from all over the world and I am so grateful for people who reached out and made this announcement of my appointment amazing to remember,” she said.
So how did the move come about?
A little word of mouth, a recommendation here or there, my agency SISU sports Management Company (Lindi Ngwenya) and The Sports Director of WADI DEGLA (Mario Despotovic). I think Wadi Degla did an extensive search and in the end everybody came together to make this happen.
After the Sudan mission you must be happy to be back on the field?
I am the Head Coach of the Women’s First Team – coaching the first team and overseeing the development of the youth teams. Of course, I am ecstatic to be back on the field. There is nothing better than coaching a team that is so eager to do well.
Although you have only been there for a very short time (in fact, you have just arrived), but are there already differences that you see?
Differences? The players have a huge hunger for the game. They are intelligent and ready to continue their winning ways. We have had a few training sessions and you can already see that they have been waiting to go to a higher level. For many, this is all they do, for others they are student athletes and so we have to strike a balance and make sure that everybody is taken care of. The league is very competitive so I have the next couple of weeks to get the players in the best shape to endure a long and hard season.
What are your plans with the team?
There is always a mandate. This team has won the league a record 12 times in Egypt and the cup also a few times. I think it is safe to assume that we want to maintain that high standard. We also want to raise the women’s game and the club is extremely proud of what has been achieved before. Now it is about seeing if we can take the next step up and qualify for the CAF Women’s Champions League and not just the playoffs. The players are talented and eager to continue doing well. As I said, I have had a few training sessions with the team and I am really excited for what the future holds. They have quite a few youth players in the first team so the future looks really bright.
Having worked with national teams before, will it be easier to work at club level or are the challenges different?
Of course the challenges are different but in many ways a good different. Here you get to see the players every day and can monitor and manage their progress better than in National team football. Many of the youth players play both in the youth system and in the first team. We need to manage the load of these players but not stifle their growth in any way. They have been developed through the academy here at Wadi Degla then graduated to the youth teams and now they also get a taste of the first team. It is good as long as we manage them properly.
The club has a rich history with a record 12 league titles, how much pressure does that place on a coach?
Wadi Degla is a club with a huge heritage in the women’s game. They have a rich history and it’s a way of living for them. They have international stars in all different sporting codes. Coaching always comes with pressure – whether you coach a winning team, middle of the table team or a bottom of the table team, the pressure is just different. All I can do with these players is continue to work on their mentality of being winners. They are technically and tactically very good but there might be a few things we want to work on to make them even better. The players ages differ considerably but they all come from the same values and have the same mentality and high standards. They all know playing for Wadi Degla comes with huge pride and accomplishment and they know it means we want to win and everybody will want to beat us.
You touched on it above – how important is the CAF competition to the club (especially as they were knocked out in the group stages in 2021 and 2022)
Off course it is important. With the rich history that the club has, I would think that it is important to keep growing the team and making sure they make the right steps. First we need to win the league to be in contention for the playoffs (something they lost out of this year). And then we need to win the playoffs to get to the final competition – I mean it is currently the biggest continental women’s club competition in CAF and who would not want to be a part of it?
How long is the contract and who are your assistants?
We agreed to sign a one year contract with the option of extending if all parties agree. Both the club and I have the same playing philosophy and style so the players would not need to change much in that department, so no need to get used to it. I also have a really amazing team that I work with, both female assistant coaches have been with Wadi Degla for a long time (first in the youth teams and then in the first team). I also have a really competent staff compliment with a goalkeeper coach, team manager, team doctor, physiotherapist, rehab specialist, performance analyst, two kit assistants and an amazing Sporting Technical Director. What more do we need to keep succeeding? I can’t be more happy to have come to this club and will work so hard to make sure we achieve everything we set out to do.
ABOUT WADI DEGLA:
Wadi Degla Sporting Club (Women) is an Egyptian Women’s Football Club based in Cairo. They are related to Wadi Degla Holding, a construction company established in 1994. The club has won the Egyptian Women’s Premier League on a record 12 times and is the affiliated to men’s team of Wadi Degla SC who have been playing in the Egyptian Premier League since 2009–10season.
Winners (record) (12): 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021
- Egyptian Women’s Cup
Winners (2): 2010, 2016–17
By Matlhomola Morake