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Ex-Banyana star believes she still has a mission to unearth new talent

Monate wants to do more to develop women’s soccer

Anna Monate during her Banyana Banyana days
Anna Monate during her Banyana Banyana days
Image: Gallo Images/Duif du Toit

Banyana Banyana veteran midfielder Anna Monate has proven to be a die-hard lover of the game by continuing to contribute her efforts in empowering women football.  

Monate, who donned the Banyana jersey from 1993 to 2001, is determined to build female players of tomorrow who will follow in her footsteps to take the male-dominated sports forward. 

Now a coach of Mpumalanga-based Hollywoodbets Super League team Coal City Wizards, the 54-year-old travels from her home in Mamelodi, northeast of Pretoria, to eMalahleni daily to train the girls’ team. 

“I heard that Witbank is looking for a female coach, and besides that, I had been monitoring the club before.  

“When they approached me after the passing of the club’s chairman Mabu Maroaswi earlier this year, I was more than willing. It was their way of keeping the momentum of the club going. 

Having started as a coach at Mamelodi Sundowns in 1992, the coach played a major role in identifying new and raw talent. To this day, the club is considered one of the best in SA. 

Monate, who has an A-licence coaching badge, boasts 21 international caps and scored six goals for this country’s national team.

She said things should be better by now for the current squad. “When I started out in this game, women’s football was not exactly approved. To this day, there are still people who don’t want to accept that females can play good soccer,” said Monate, adding that there was a point she was the only girl among boys when she began her career at Tembisa Hotspurs on the East Rand. 

Born in Polokwane, Limpopo, Monate moved to Tembisa when she was only in primary school.  She is one of the first few ladies to be bullied for behaving like a tomboy.  

“I was raised by my stepfather. That is when I started to take part in athletics. I used to take part in athletics at school, I started with 300 metres race and then I would go as far as 3km and more,” she said. 

She is one of the first few ladies who made women’s football fashionable. 

“I got interested in football around 1981. During school hours, whenever there was no teacher in class, we would sneak out with some boys to go play football, and that is how I fell in love with football. I then played after school with the local team.”  

“At school I met Fani Madida and Jerry Sikhosana. I also met Gloria Hlalele, who used to play in the Super League. I remember I used to wear my brother’s short pants under my school dungaree so I could go training.

“Other schools would fight to recruit me to come play for their teams. I didn’t know where to go exactly. This fuelled my passion as a player; I had to keep going." 

As she excelled in accounting and business studies, she said school was as important as the game. She had to make sure neither interfered with the other. She and her friends then found a balance. 

“We would help one another with our homework and studying. I would help others with accounting and business studies subjects, while they helped me in other subjects.  

“Fani Madida was also very focused. I enjoyed school because none would discriminate against me in this group, they all understood me. After school we would head to the ground to train, and I would walk about 5km to my home every day." 

Monate even met her current husband around 1989 at a stadium while she was playing. She now has two children, proving that being a woman football player doesn't always mean you are lesbian.

Banyana Banyana veteran midfielder, Anna Monate is now the coach of Mpumalanga-based Coal City Wizards
Banyana Banyana veteran midfielder, Anna Monate is now the coach of Mpumalanga-based Coal City Wizards
Image: Supplied

“I was the only one who was married in the Banyana squad. Before that, I was at Sundowns Ladies team as a coach. We would go to Loftus Stadium whenever there were matches and we would stand at the corners of the field. Whenever the players went to the changing rooms, we would play on the field for a few minutes while they are on break. It was part of entertainment. That is how women football started gaining traction, even referees would be shocked while watching us,” she said. 

This is where she was spotted by former Downs’ owner Anastacia Tsiclas, who sent security guards to look for her at her home. 

“Their offices were still based in Johannesburg, I became a coach, scout and an administrator to keep the winning mentality by recruiting players outside Mamelodi. I ended up recruiting players from Belgium, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and Cameroon. Players even used to stay at my house at times,” she said. 

“I think I need to show this country that there is talent out there. Also, I always encourage players that I work with to stay in school. There are universities that offer great sporting codes like the Tshwane University of Technology and University of Johannesburg. I have been head coach for both these institutions, hence I always emphasise the importance of education to the players,” she said. 

Monate was also an analyst for SABC during this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup, and says she will carry on being highly involved in football for the foreseeable future.  

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