Coach Desiree Ellis in book festival line-up

West End Primary School, in Lentegeur, will host the Cape Flats Book Festival this Saturday November 4, from 9.30am until 4pm, and on Sunday November 5, from 10am until 2.30pm.

Entry is free.

National women’s soccer team coach, Desiree Ellis, pictured here with Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, at a homecoming event at Athlone Stadium last year. The event was held in her and Banyana Banyana’s honour, following their success at last year’s Women’s African Cup of Nations tournament. Picture: Fuad Esack

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis will be at the book festival opening ceremony on Saturday.

Although she has been associated with Banyana Banyana for 30 years, first as a player, and continuing as the most successful women’s coach in South Africa, she made her mark when the national women’s soccer team made it to their third match in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Her life story is told in her biography Magic: Desiree Ellis, from Salt River to the 2023 World Cup, authored by journalist Luke Alfred, published earlier this year and details these 30 years, initially making her mark as a player between 1993 and 2002, before transitioning to coaching.

Ms Ellis wants to inspire children to pursue their dreams, tell and share their stories.

She told the Plainsman today that the title of her book Magic, was the nickname given to her while playing provincial soccer.

Growing up in Salt River and Hanover Park and being one of five children, Ms Ellis said do not let where you come from define you. “Who you become can define you,” she said.

She said more people needed to tell and share their stories because they never know when they may inspire others.

Ms Ellis said she enjoyed reading romance novels and has grown to love reading sports-related books, especially autobiographies.

“I still read a lot, sport-related books but you never stop learning and you never stop growing. Things that happen to you builds character,” she said.

She intends watching the Beckham series, based on the life of former English and international soccer player David Beckham and The Last Dance, documenting the life of basketball player Michael Jordan.

Ms Ellis lives in Johannesburg because of work but her mother still lives in their family home in Hanover Park.

She is one of many literary figures who will take part in the third instalment of the Cape Flats Book Festival this weekend. Catch her at the opening ceremony on Saturday at 9.30am.

Festival hosts, Read to Rise, a national literacy non-government organisation (NGO), based at Seaview Primary School in Rocklands, has confirmed the attendance of various local authors, including Ms Ellis, Nadine Dirks, Patric Tariq Mellet, Yusuf Daniels, Nikki Munitz, Sindiwe Magona, Tessa Dooms, Lynsey Chutel, Nadia Kamies, Baydu Adams, Sarah Isaacs and Willy Mathys.

They also have poets, including Diana Ferrus, Siphokazi Jonas, Khadija Heeger, Leila Phoenix Alexander, Poets Vannie Kaap, Cape Cultural Collective poets, Mengelmoes Digters and WEAVE.

The Oaky mascot will be making an appearance along with the Read to Rise puppet show and there will be story-telling workshops and exhibitors.

For more information, go to or follow the Cape Flats Book Festival social media pages on Facebook and Instagram @CapeFlatsBookFestival or on X (formerly Twitter) @CapeFlatsBF