After a successful year with Parktown High School for Girls in the JVW Girls School league winning both the stream and the Championship, we sit with Head Coach Cailin Whyte.

JVW: When were you officially appointed as Coach of the team?

CW: I was appointed Head Coach of the Open team at Parktown High school for Girls in 2016.

JVW: What has been your best achievement so far?

CW: Well I’ve been working with many of the girls for more than three years now, so my biggest highlight has to be the growth of every single player from when they entered the team.

JVW: The Open Final was a well-contested match, describe the feeling throughout the match.

CW: The final kept me on my toes! Jeppe High school for Girls always gives us a run for our money. They had a good team out and had many talented players! However I know my girls, their drive, hunger and passion for the game. Each and every player whether it being starting 11 or players that started bench wanted to bring it home. For me the match proved a lot, Jeppe has some incredible players but Parktown always comes together as a team and I honestly think it was this attitude that pulled us all the way.

JVW: You were once a player in the JVW Girls School League and now a Coach, how has the grown since you’re playing days?

CW: Indeed I was a player back when the league first started and made it to the JVW stars team. The league has grown immensely and has really brought up the sport in South Africa. I think Janine and her administration team has given so many girls opportunities in so many different fields and this should be commended.

JVW: What impact has the JVW Girls School League made?

CW: Well for my girls the JVW league has given them a platform for girls soccer to be taken seriously. Their game has improved immensely and they love every second of it. It has provided many people including myself the opportunity to coach and develop the future soccer stars. It is really a great platform, and truly something special!

JVW: Do you think the level of football is improving?

CW: Absolutely! It improves every year and its great! It gives girls opportunity to strengthen their skills and become better players. We love competitions!

JVW: Do you think there is a growing interest in the game post the Women’s World Cup?

CW: I think there was a lot of interest before the World Cup as well as after. There was a lot more media coverage and hype, more than before for sure. I think with Banyana making it into the World Cup, it gave the girls hope and inspiration to know that it is possible to make it to the biggest stage in the world. A lot of girls found role models, some who have been in the team for many years and some that are reasonably new. Another big factor that many of the girls realised, is the fact that a few players were scouted and asked to sign with international teams, this also played a big factor in many realising that this could be a path that could be followed. I take my hat off to the National team, I think every player worked exceptionally hard and showed the world that we mean business and are not just a push over, which was my motto when I arrived at Parktown. I think many of the girls can relate to this and aspire to be the talented athletes we have representing this country.

JVW: You were announced Coach of the Year after a superb display in the 2019 School League, does this inspire you to want to coach at club level?

CW: I understand the hard work, commitment and patience it takes to coach a team. I also understand that many of my girls were guided and coached by other coaches at school level. I give a lot of credit to these coaches in particular to coach Eleni, Dimpho, Catherine and Deandra. It also takes a great deal of management skills to ensure a team runs smoothly and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my team manager Karlyn. Being named Coach of the year in 2019 made me extremely proud of not only myself but to every person that was involved in training the incredible girls I get to work with! I have been asked to coach both girls and ladies club sides but feel that I prefer to give my 100% to a team throughout the season. To me you get what you give and thats why I give my 100% to my girls at school. I try to provide the platform for opportunities to further their careers as well as their education with guiding them to reach higher education and to get them into club teams whilst still in school.

JVW: What three attributes do you look for in a player?

CW: Commitment – this is the top of my list when it comes to players. Players understand that it is not an individual sport and we get better and grow together. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re the best, if you don’t attend trainings with the team, you don’t play.

Team Spirit – for me the team spirit we have has driven us over many hurdles. The girls know how to pick each other up, push each other and fight for each other. This is something I hold very close to my heart and the girls have blown me away as year after year they continue to grow closer and maintain the team spirit.

Balance – I work my girls very hard. They know training sessions are not to be taken lightly although sometimes we do just laugh for 20 minutes but there is a fine balance. I emphasise with my girls the importance of school work and opportunities there are with soccer. I’ve tried to maintain the balance and work closely with the school to ensure players are given ample opportunities to focus on their school work if they are struggling to keep up. Some players sit before practice and work together to get work done and others sit in my office to cover the work load. Parktown is a proudly academic, sport and culture school and I truly am blessed to work with such talented, all rounded girls who keep me on my toes but push me to the limit. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.