South Africa women coach Desiree Ellis believes her side's hard work starts immediately to ensure a successful debut at the Women's World Cup this summer in France.
Having won the 2018 COSAFA Cup in October, Ellis led Banyana Banyana to a runners-up finish at the African Women Cup of Nations and earned a historic Women's World Cup slot in 2018
After becoming the first South African to win the African Women's Coach of the Year, the 55-year-old is thankful to her country, her assistants and players for standing by her.
“It was a surreal moment for me, I am truly humbled and blessed by the award – we don’t do things for awards and rewards, but I suppose if the team does well, that is the outcome," Ellis told media.
"It is a great moment for me, but I have to give credit to my assistants – we strategise and come up with a plan, and it’s up to the players to execute the plan, so it is a collective effort by the entire team.
"I am also grateful to SAFA for having faith in us as female coaches in the national teams, but also giving the necessary support by making sure that we get top quality opposition.
“You cannot forget our proud sponsor, this is the 10thyear they are backing women’s football and as the slogan says, ‘the opportunities are limitless’, we are very grateful. This award is also for all the coaches in the South African League because of the tremendous work they put in.
"I should also thank the coaches that have come before me at Banyana Banyana as they laid the foundation and we have just continued with that. They say, ‘it’s all in God’s timing,’ and this is the time. Thank you very much South Africa, but the hard work starts now as we prepare for our next big challenge, that is the World Cup.”
South Africa will be hoping to make a debut statement when they launch their Women’s World Cup campaign against Spain at the State Oceane, Le Havre on June 8.