Cape Town Coach Makes History As South Sudan Bright Starlets Take The Field

Myolisi Gophe, 7 April 2021

Capetonian women footballer Shilene Booysen is making history – as she leads South Sudan’s Senior Women’s National team to their first ever match this month, marking the beginning of a new era.

The Bright Starlets, as the team is affectionately called, will play two friendly games against Ethiopia’s Senior Women’s Squad in Addis Ababa on Saturday 10 April and on Tuesday 13 April 2021.

Booysen, who played and coached a number of teams in the Mother City, was appointed as the head coach of the East-Central African country’s first national women team. She assembled a 25-member team from the country’s newly-established Women’s National League. 

“I’m really excited to bring all these players together from different regions, backgrounds, abilities and to see how we can grow as a team,” Booysen was quoted as saying by the South Sudan Football Association website.

Booysen brought decades of expertise to her two-year contract with South Sudan. She started playing football as a goalkeeper at the age of 25, and went on to play for Westridge FC and Santos FC before joining Spurs Women’s Football Club. At Spurs, she enjoyed resounding success, taking home five provincial championships and one national title, and she represented the province at interprovincial tournaments.

While playing, Booysen worked as an engineer for an international company – but also took the opportunity to educate herself even more about sporting matters, arming herself with various courses. Among them were the Football Coaching Level One course with Safa Western Province, a Sports Science course in 1997 with the Sports Science Institute Newlands, a Goalkeeper Coaching Course with Farouk Abrahams Goalkeeper Academy, a FIFA/SAFA goalkeeping course in 2012, her CAF B in 2013 and CAF A, which she completed in 2015. 

“I did some of my coaching courses while I was playing,” she told the Far Post. “I’m passionate when I get into something and I just wanted to know more about sport.” 

Booysen took a trip down memory lane when she returned to Santos and Spurs as head coach. She again won the provincial and national titles with the latter. Her next assignments were as goalkeeper coach Dunoon Academy, All Youth Western Province and the provincial women’s team. She then toured Germany, Czech Republic and Zambia with the Ambassadors in Sport as head coach. In 2014 she was appointed as an analyst for Banyana Banyana, and four years later she took her skills abroad as an assistant coach at Houston Dash, in the United States.

So what brought her to South Sudan? More passion, naturally – this time the ambition and passion of the South Sudan Football Association for women’s football development. 

“When I saw what South Sudan was doing in terms of women’s football and the strategy the SSFA has put in place, and what they have done since putting it in place, everything that they have done made me excited and since then I have always wanted to be a part of something like this,” Booysen was quoted.

Shilene Booysen is expected to lead the Bright Starlets through some major campaigns, including the Cecafa Women’s Cup and African Women’s Cup of Nations, which double as the qualifying event for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.