By Mark Etheridge
in Luanda, Angola
At the last AUSC African Region 5 Games in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe two years ago Team South Africa’s women’s footballers went all the way to take gold.
On that occasion Sheryl Botes was in charge of the team and at this year’s Games in Luanda, Angola she again finds herself in the coach’s hot seat as the country’s top Under-20 women seek to emulate the class of 2014.
‘We’ve got a lot of youngsters from the SAFA Girls’ Soccer Academy at the HPC in Pretoria,’ said Botes as the team arrived at the West African country’s Aeroporto International 4 de Fevereiro on Wednesday for a long and exhausting day of accreditation and settling into the official Games village
‘We’ve tried to get a nice blend of youth and experience, the latter to provide some stability.
‘These Games are all about giving the youngsters a chance to play for their country and to see if they have what it takes on a bigger stage. It’s very important for us as we need to see them in action out of their comfort zone.’
Twelve of the team hail from the SAFA Girls’ Soccer Academy at Pretoria’s HPC Academy with the remaining six players from Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
One of those Western Cape players will captain the side, University of Western Cape’s Chamelle Wiltshire.
In terms of age, the bulk of the squad in Angola are 17, while there’s also a 16-year old and three 15-year-olds.
Opposition wise it seems as the SA youngsters will only face three opponents at this stage, namely the hot nation, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
‘So it probably looks like it will be a round-robin format with the team scoring the most points coming out tops,’ says Botes. ‘But we’ll know a bit more after the first technical meeting.’
Team SA will take part in eight codes while in Angola: athletics (incl. visually impaired), boxing, football, gymnastics, judo, netball, swimming and tennis.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday with the Games continuing through to 18 December.
Picture courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images