Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Highlanders FC Chairman’s Report – AGM 2012 (unedited)

The 2011 financial year was not only a year to mark our 85 years of existence but marked the beginning of the revival of the club, against years where the club was on a free fall. Members might argue that one of our worst finishes in the league signaled the possible demise of the club, but what should be noted is that we have come out stronger financially and on our human resources front, which fundamentally are the basic cornerstones of a successful football club.
We would like to take this opportunity to remember those that passed on during the period under review and also honour those that persevered with the club in its greatest moments of need.
Team Performance
Premier League - 
The club finished 7th on the log in the premiership, a position which we last attained in 2008, which by all standards does not befit the club of our status. Many factors contributed to this, but amongst others the major contributories being as follows: 

a) Loss of key players at the end of the 2010 season.
b) Below par performance in the second half of the season
c) Enforcement of discipline in the team lacking.

Cup Competitions

Independence Trophy - The club won the independence trophy after accounting for its perennial rivals Dynamos FC in the finals. This is the first silverware to be won by the club since the 2006 season.

Banc Abc Super 8 - The club reached finals of this knockout tournament and lost to Motor Action at Barbourfields stadium to a solitary goal. Indeed the loss was heartbreaking and had huge financial implications on the club.

Mbada Diamonds Cup - After having been drawn against Zimbabwe Saints hopes were high that we were going to proceed to the later stages of this lucrative competition. Those hopes were quickly extinguished at the Colliery Stadium in the first round.

Invitational Tournaments  The club was invited to participate in a winner take all tournaments in Johannesburg South Africa against Bloemfontein Celtics, which we lost on penalty shootouts.

Club Administration 

The club continues to be the envy of all in Zimbabwe as a shining beacon of good administration; this on its own has seen a rise in interest from the corporate sector to partner our club. It is no accident that we have managed to clinch sponsorship deals with various corporate bodies, which has been the result of the high levels of professionalism that we have continued to show.

The Board and Executive working committees have improved the way we do things and have certainly ensured that high levels of integrity are observed. These committees now guarantee continuity to club programs as executives come and go. Some procedural manuals are now in place while others are being finalized.

This not only improves the effectiveness of the administrative systems but makes the work of administrators easy. Our target this year is to work towards certification in ISO 9000- 2008 quality management system.

Legal Matters

The following matters were dealt with and concluded:
a) vs Mohamed Fathi – Payment was made in full courtesy of a donation from the Hon Dr O Mpofu.
b) vs Madinda Ndlovu – the matter was decided in the club’s favour, however the club feels that it has a moral obligation to pay. Preliminary approaches have been made to have the matter settled between the parties.
c) vs Philani Mabhena – the case is still pending in the court of arbitration.
d) Vs Caps United – the case is still to be heard before an arbitrator.

Club Code of Conduct 

With the growth of the club and the change in football from being a mere pass time, it has become necessary that we come up with a comprehensive code of conduct which will ensure that members are bound by and understand the implications of their actions.

Behaviour of Fans

The club is concerned with the upsurge in unruly behavior by its fans and would like to appeal to the fans to behave in a sporting manner as the club has not only lost a lot of its hard-earned revenue to fines but has had to fork out money to repair its vehicles which were damaged by missiles at Barbourfields Stadium.

Football is a family sport and any violence at our matches drives away fans and sponsors. There is no sponsor that would want to associate their brand with violence.

The club would like to see the number of fans increasing by a further 50% in the coming season which will in turn improve its financial health.

Player Contracts

We are pleased to advise that the club has 35 registered players in its books with 24 of them being aged between 17 and 22 years, with contracts ranging between 3 and 5 years. It has not been easy to achieve this feat as we had some amongst us who would deflect good players to other clubs.

The tracking of our promising youth players in their respective age groups has been the major focus of your executive. The club has managed to resolve the perennial problem of yesteryear of panic signings to complete the required quota to meet registration deadlines.

We are currently not under any pressure to sign any players but will only do so at the convenience and affordability of the club.

Youth Development

The club changed its registration status from Highlanders Juniors to Highlanders Academy in line with its objectives of establishing a fully fledged academy. We are pleased to advise that our relationship with First Mobile Sports Academy is beginning to bear fruit as we have already received playing kit and tracksuits for two of our age groups as part of the fulfillment of the agreement.

During the year we had been offered four slots for our academy players to go to Denmark and Sweden which we failed to utilize due logistical challenges and unfounded suspicions that were there at inception.
Our technical teams are currently in the process of identifying players that will go and represent the club at this year’s Gorthia and Dana Cup Youth tournaments to be held in Sweden and Denmark respectively in June and July.

In line with our efforts of establishing a fully fledged academy we have since approached Milton High School to be our partners where we will be sending our players that the club will be taking care of. The school has offered us two training grounds, to which the first team is already having access.
Plans are at an advanced stage to establish school of excellence in various secondary schools in surrounding regions.

Junior League - Our youth teams came first in their respective age groups save for the U16 side, which came second.

Ajax Hotspurs Festival - Our under 14 side won the Ajax Hotspurs Invitational tournament whilst the U16 and U18 lost in the finals.

Kombami Africa Cup - Our U19 team participated in the above tournament in Plumtree and was knocked out in the semi-finals. Whilst our teams have been winning, it is certainly not the key objective of our academy, ours is to identify and develop talent as well as market it.

It is in this regard that our target in the next three years will be to market at least three (3) players to Europe which we hope will have a positive effect on the club’s finances as well as its profile as a rich ground for talent.

We intend to introduce the U12 age group to our Academy. This will be done through the introduction of a house league, which will be spearheaded by our former players.

Trip to Canada

As chairman of the club, I had been invited to attend a youth tournament in Canada in the month of December. The trip did not materialize as I was denied a visa on flimsy reasons.

It was a pity that we missed this opportunity of interacting with the top brains in Youth Development and creating contacts that were going to be forever helpful to club.

The trip did create an outcry from some sections of our membership, but to mention “our former players” who even had the audacity to write and complain to our sponsor why he was funding the trip. There was joy and celebration when news eventually came out that I was not going to make with exclamations "Thank God it failed".

It is a tragedy when we celebrate our own failure, it shows our deficiencies to the whole world that we are not united and we do not share the same vision. The organizers were very disappointed that I could not make it as they had expected me to make an address talking about Zimbabwean football and in particular Highlanders FC.

This was indeed a great opportunity that we will rue that we missed in a long period to come.

Technical Teams

The appointment of technical teams has been a major topic during the period under review. I would like to advise our members that the recruitment systems at the club ensure that the most suitable candidates for the job are employed. Technical team members are as follows:

Senior Team

Head Coach – Kelvin Kaindu; Assistant Coach - Bekithemba Ndlovu; Goal keepers Trainer - Tembo Chuma, Welfare Manager - Amin Soma Phiri; Team Doctor - Dr Xolani Ndlovu and Team Physiotherapist - Loyal Nyika.

Youth Academy  - Under 14 Coach - Dan Ngwenya; Under 16 Coach - Gift Lunga; Under 18 Coach - Siphatho Ncube; Division 2 Coach - Mark Mathe and Welfare Manager - Smart Moyo.
The position of Director of Coaching will be filled once a suitable candidate has been identified. Funds permitting the club will also engage a full-time scout.

Club Facilities

Main Club - The performance of the clubhouse is still way below expectations, with the catering section disappointing resulting in patrons shunning the facility. Catering is key to improved profitability therefore renewed efforts will be made to secure or provide better catering facilities.

Hlabangana Lounge - The lounge has been lying idle since 2008 and it had dilapidated to a sorry sight. Renovations have been undertaken courtesy of a donation from the Board Chairman. The lounge will serve as an executive lounge for members and will play host to important visitors of the club. Preparations for its opening are at an advanced stage and we have targeted its opening at the end of February.

Training Grounds - The training grounds remain in a deplorable state and efforts are being made to resuscitate them as the borehole has already been repaired and work is in progress to get the irrigation systems working. The youth teams are currently using the training grounds and efforts would be made to have one ground in a usable state by July.


Official Club Sponsors are Banc Abc, Savannah Tobacco and Bakers Inn. The Club managed to secure sponsorship with Banc Abc in June 2011, which sponsorship will run up to the end of December 2013.
The Banc Abc sponsorship covers the following:
a) Payment of player and technical team salaries.
b) Supply of training and playing kit.
c) Hosting of the end of year stars awards.

The Buscod sponsorship ended on 31 December 2011 and negotiations are still underway for its extension. The Bakers Inn deal runs up to the end of March 2012. Savannah Tobacco has come back after a two-year absence, and the club is happy that the value of its brand has once again been recognized.
The club has already received some funding towards the payment of sign on fees; however, the full package will be released at the official launch, which will be held at a date to be advised.


This revenue stream performed below expectation as the company that we had contracted failed to deliver as promised. This area still remains a priority area as it has a lot of potential and would provide some measure of financial security.

Member Associations

The club encourages the formation of member groups as a way of mobilizing membership and increasing cohesiveness at a local level. Few associations are currently in existence, and your executive would like to assure members that now that the dust has begun to settle this area will receive priority.
We have associations that have led by example and deserve to be emulated as they have come in handy to the club in times of need.

Media Relations

Our relations with the media have not been acrimonious, we have over the period been engaging with the press on various issues that needed to be communicated to our members. However we note with concern the shift of late where reports about the club have been made without any verification with the club.
Some of the reports have been so misleading that they have created an impression that we are not of sound mind. Players have been signed and offloaded by the press on our behalf without us knowing throwing our credibility out of the window.

We strongly believe that our members deserve nothing but the truth regardless of whatever event is on our calendar. In line with that your club has taken a decision to revive the monthly newsletter which will provide our members and other interested parties the correct status of the club.

Prospects for 2012

The club realizes the need to improve on the team performance so as to meet the expectations of our various stakeholders who include among others , our sponsors ,our members, our fans as well as the whole football fraternity, because with the team under-performing it does not make football exciting.

We realize our role as the pacesetters in Zimbabwean football and we have thus ensured that everybody who is involved in delivering our product to our customers is managed through a performance driven management system. In this light our technical teams have been given performance related contracts to ensure that the club gets value for the money that it spends in the employment of these members.
Our major goal this season is to win the championship as well as to land one major cup tournament. 

Finishing in the top four will not be good enough. We know that our ambition might seem too high given the investments that other clubs have made, but we believe that money is not everything but just a means to an end, and hence ours will be to get the commitment of everybody in the Highlanders family to the club cause.

The commitment that we seek is not just from the members, but from the fans and from our sponsors, as everybody has a role to play. The slogan that says, “In Highlanders we are one”, must be rekindled. Gone are days when we will selfishly undo each other at the expense of the club, it is time that we reflect on who we are and what we believe and stand for.

No one has a right to ownership on the spirit “sikaMthwakazi”; we all share the same vision, with no one being better than the other is. As the leadership of the club, we stand guided by your expectations and those are also our expectations, it therefore means we must flow in the same tide and help each other along the way.

We will increase our marketing efforts in areas of merchandising and fan development. It is our target that we must have member representations in all major centres of Zimbabwe as we have since realized that this area can provide us with the fastest growth rates in revenue income as highlighted by our financial report.

The commitment that you have from members can never be exceeded by any as they are the owners of the club. With member charters as they are called it will be easy to sell and distribute our merchandise.


The club would like to thank the following members, individuals and institutions that helped fund its activities during the year. Dr O Mpofu, Bellevue Spar, First Mobile Sports Academy, Astra Supplies, Carol Sports, Michael Malani C C Sales, Inunu Tours, McNamara Lodge, Harare Supporters Association, Heart and Soul, Christel Dube, Zenzo Madonko, Ndoes Transport and G G Hardware.

We recognize that we might not be able to list everyone but would like to acknowledge everybody who made contributions towards the club and say “Lingadinwa Lakusasa”


The status of the club for the year reflects a very positive movement towards the right direction, where we our financial pulse can now be heard and our human resources have been strengthened. It certainly does not resemble an “Intensive Care Unit” as some have been putting it. It provides hope for better things to come and certainly sets the foundation for future success. With your support we will certainly go places.

T Ndlela


Monday, January 30, 2012

What Highlanders need right now

The Highlanders Football Club Annual General Meeting for 2012 will the focal point to many people for the good conduct of attendees. Despite the poor attendance, the reports on money issues showed some improvements.

Trying to be apolitical, the budget deficit was reported to be down while match attendance went up. Projected expenditure is at $660 000 to be financed by $$651 000. (Read What Highlanders need right now!)

The meeting almost started with 95 members, that figures rising to an encouraging 173. The club books have about 4000 paid up members. Simple put, the audience could not fill three rural buses. They deserve a huge pat on the back for attending.

The official Technical Team was confirmed as; Head Coach - Kelvin Kaindu to be assisted by Bekithemba Super Ndlovu while goalkeepers will be Tembo Chuma's responsibility. Amin Soma-Phiri will manage the players' welfare. The team Doctor is Dr Xolani Ndlovu while Loyal Nyika will be the Physiotherapist.

The Highlanders Academy will be handled by Dan Ngwenya in the under 14 age group, with the under 16 given to Gift Thebe Lunga. Siphatho Ncube will be in charge of the under 18 and the Division 2 side will be under the tutelage of Mark Mathe. Welfare Manager in that department will be 'My Tshomie' Smart 'Smitsho' Moyo.

The club has $9 000 to raise assuming the are vehicle to pump the $651 000 into the Club's bank account. Given the distance of willing donors who need the means to do, have made it look like empty pledges the promises of people from social sites.

The diasporians can easily be the solution to this small amount. This week will see the launch of the e-book,which is a personal project, whose proceeds will shared with Bosso, subject to their approval. The online book will be available at a neat price from the very popular Amazon.com and is titled What Highlanders need right now!

I trust you will be able to google the book and have all your social network friends get a copy without having to borrow from you. A good response will result in the print copies being made available even for those who do not have gadgets to read e-books.

Blackberry, iPhones, iPad, Androids, Kindle, Windows phones, iOS, Mac OS X and practically any tablet computer with the reader application will be able to open the book.

Post on your Facebook Walls and Twitter accounts and send e-mails. If the project gets viral, Bosso could receive their first pay cheque less than 90 days from now. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Emmett Ndlovu election manifesto

Emmett Ndlovu, in his election manifesto expresses the for the "continued existence, sustenance and vision" of the Highlanders Football Club, which he says "has relied heavily on its roots, history and the principle and culture of “UBUNTU”"

He continues by saying "It is in recognition of the above that l once again present myself to the club for service having time and again worked for the club since 1991 ,a feat that has called for dedication and commitment to the club." Ndlovu goes on to humbly look forward to "the prospect of becoming the next Executive Secretary of this great institution."

Born 45 years ago in Bethesda Mission, Victoria Falls, Chief Mvuthu is married and has three sons and a daughter, the former team doctor and manager is a Christian and holds Bachelor of Science in Physical Education & Sports obtained in 2007 and a Medical Rehabilitation qualification of 1989.

In his work background, he listed the following; "1990-1994 Mpilo Hospital Physio Department, 1995-1999 Zoe Brest Physio Clinic, 2000-2008 Highlanders F. C, 2011 to date Assistant Manager – Forever Living Products."

That list is complemented by his football related work as in "1991 - Started working for Bosso treating players, 1992 Appointed Team Medic, 1993 - Attained FIFA sports injuries management certificate, 1994 - First assignment and attachment to the Zimbabwe National U20 soccer team, - 1996 Seconded to the National U23 soccer team, 1997 - Committee Member – ZIFA Sports Medicine committee, 2000 - Attained CAF Sports injuries management certificate, 2000 - Attained Level One Soccer Coaching certificate, 2001 - Appointed to the Senior National Soccer team (Warriors) as Team Medic and participated in several tournaments locally, regionally and internationally."

In 2004 he represented Zimbabwe at the Cup of Nations in Tunisia being part of the medical team and did the same in 2005 when he won Gold in the COSAFA Castle Cup in South Africa. He was appointed Team Manager of Highlanders F.C winning the championship in 2006 under Methembe Ndlovu.

The 2007-2008 period saw him being the Administration and Enterprise Manager and Team Manager when Bosso were League Runners up. He was 2009 General Manager at Bantu Rovers F.C in 2009.

He describes himself as a self-starter and a relentless hard-worker who achieves set targets. He describes his effective communication skills both in writing and verbally "with the ability to proffer meaningful ideas and accommodate constructive views."

"A natural leader who can work under pressure and dovetail with hierarchical levels of the club 's institution, a natural winner endowed with an insatiable desire to succeed and acquire more knowledge and a team player with a purposeful and focused outlook", reads the manifesto.

He goes on to describe a unique self as an individual privileged to have worked with various leaderships, managers and coaches "in my football career both at club and national levels" thus qualified to "consequently have over a long period of time, acquired sufficient administrative and interpersonal skills that effectively qualify me for the post of Secretary at Highlanders F.C ."

"My complete and total understanding of football players' needs, wishes, pressures, successes, failures, frustrations, expectations and dreams has its origins in the many seasons that I have worked with players at various levels, inter alia, promoting their welfare, negotiation of players' contracts, renewal or extensions as well as taking care of their treatment", elaborates Ndlovu.

He said, "One of the critical duties of a Secretary at Highlanders FC is to keep records of players, their contracts and ensure timeous renewal of such contracts and registration of players with the appropriate bodies . I SHALL NOT DISAPPOINT ."

He goes on to pledge "to promote and leave a legacy of securing players’ future after their playing days, nurture home-grown talent/players and to adhere to the club’s desire to have players signing long-term contracts and to sell those whose contracts cannot be extended for whatever reason."

The straight forward and tough talk manifesto goes on about how Highlanders brand of football should be promoted in order to create entertainment and "woe back the Bosso family multitudes back to EMAGUMENI !"

There is a declaration to "maintain a professional and open door policy" as the team belongs to the people who must have access to appropriate as well as relevant information timeously and periodically as major stakeholders.

It expresses the need "to promote strategic plans that will translate into reality the dream of being a dynamic world-class sporting institution for centuries to come, and to work towards promoting the battered image of the club in a bid to take it where it belongs “ON TOP”".

According to Ndlovu, revamping supporters groups to exploit the Highlanders FC brand to its fullest and maintaining good relationships with sponsors, media/press "including all stake holders such as members, supporters, former players and sympathisers" will be his agenda.

He also wants to maintain good relationship with all sporting bodies especially other soccer clubs, PSL, ZIFA and SRC and to look at improving and further enhancing the overall performance of the club. "There is need for a paradigm shift in a number of administrative aspects in order to improve the quality of our football at Highlanders F.C .", he said.

Furthermore, he stresses that football is a team sport, "and as such there is need to involve all stake holders in its development.

There is need to identify talent within our region and all other areas where the Bosso family is scattered prior to reaching far afield."

Suitably qualified former players and supporters should be used in talent identification,according to the manifesto Ndlovu made public on social sites, adding that the club must create employment for "our children".

In his conclusion, he assures that having "our past as the Highlanders institution being gained or lost forever" the future of our club is not "yet ours but will be decided through your vote which should be for prosperity, progress and development."

As the time to decide the destiny of the club for the next three years, pleaded to all to use their votes well and wisely "in order to resuscitate and rekindle our club which is currently in the “INTENSIVE CARE UNIT”"

As he putting it, Highlanders is now "an enviable laughing-stock", emphasising that winning the election will not be an end in itself but a means to an end "which is the beginning of an era of hard work to bring back the glory days to the success starved Bosso community."

Tell us what you think.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Who should be Highlanders chairman?

The official nomination process is concluded and since the last time we chatted, it was a two-horse race that just turned around to be a poker game. 

Peter Dube, a veteran administrator of the club on several occasions, became the 3rd candidate. Prior to Dube's entry into the fray, there was a debate of retaining the leadership known to the people or electing a fresh face.

At this juncture, Dube is neither a 'retainee' nor a fresh face. How much that makes him different and favourable will be seen on the 5th of February 2012. 

I have not been privileged to cast my eyes on the manifestos of the candidates and hopefully, before the weekend I will have all or at least one. 

Given several choices, it is only fair for me to let the campaigns hit the road and trust that those with a sweet tongue will win the day and deliver over the period of their tenure.

I pledge to work very effectively with the winner, as I am creating myself a role that needs all of us to be a success. As much as it is not an easy task to trust or be trusted, it is a risk I will take, together with those who claim to have the team at heart.

The project in question will go ahead at the earliest possible convenience after the elections and is meant to supplement the team's coffers. This will involve all in every corner of the planet and any aliens from elsewhere who have no doubt known Mantengwane in years gone by.

Highlanders have suddenly become a breeding ground for players who get window dressed and get snapped for a song, if not for free. It could be we can help and when we can we will do.

I need your pledge that we swim or sink for the love and worthy cause of iBosso.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Technique training with Wenger.

As a coach, one of the biggest aspect of the game, is the relationship your players will have with the ball. This includes among things ball control, passing, dribbling and shooting. This is technique and if done under pressure it becomes skill. This must be trained continuously throughout the player's playing life. Key factors are the coaching points.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Messi will be number 4 for a long time.

Lionel Messi has a very long way to go to be the best footballer of all time, even number 3. Messi of Argentina, won the highest individual footballing honour for the 3rd consecutive time last week, a feat achieved by fewer that 5 players and at this rate, one he may achieve once more, as long as his team stays tops and Cristiano Ronaldo remains arrogant, (I seem to be the only person admiring the Portuguese's attitude and that is his undoing to many.) but it will take his take him far more effort to get in touch with the Top 3 Footballers of the all time.

Barcelona are the team of the decade by far, domestically and in the UEFA Champions League, out doing themselves over and over and I am not about to praise them any further. After all, it is not so long ago that I told you about the beginning of their end. Many took it that I meant that Real Madrid are a better team in comparison. Madrid have been better, of course, after the arrival of Jose Mourinho. 

The protracted verbal war and psychological warfare that boardrooms and racial slurs characterised The Special One's arrival in Spain but things calmed down as teams went into business. Now, Barca are wilting and Lionel Messi is proving to be human.

There was a time that I think he has measuring up to Zinedine Zidane, because I think Zizou is the greatest thing that happened to the game after Pele and Diego Maradona in that order. A few more seasons may see him getting there but he is running out of time. With what he has done and achieved, Argentina should have been FIFA World Cup champions. You may want to argue that World Cups are not a measure of everything and you are wrong.

Players like Pele, Maradona and Zidane had tremendous club success and their World Cups were cherries on top. No matter the glitter of any career from thence forth, if anyone can collect everything at once and fails at the World Cup, no one will remember their name.

The last generation of great footballers had one particular player, Eusebio. The Mozambican born Portuguese would have rated well alongside Pele, had he won a World Cup with Portugal. World Cups provide a platform for football patterns and evolution as well as player character.

Maybe also not so great in their clubs but so charismatic at the game were characters like Romanian George Hagi, a size 5 Number 10 who made football look so simple and had a tremendous shot. Hristo Stoichkov of Bulgaria is yet another great player of the World Cup. 

Why I bring these names forth, Messi has not mad much impact for Argentina as these have made for their countries during their prime. In that mix you could add Davor Suker of Croatia and Michel Platini of France. These players made huge impacts on the game for both the tournament and their countries.

As of now, Messi is so ordinary and by passion, is ranked amongst these. As for the actual influence of results, there is just so much ground to cover and I think he is running out if World Cups. Since 2014 FIFA World Cup is in South America, it may be his time t come out of the closet and be counted, but there will be Neymar of Brazil to compete with.  

Messi may not need to really win the FIFA World Cup, but at least to set it alight, to make his presence felt at least may be enough to secure a and seal a Top 4 position, but as for the actual Top 3, he needs to do what Pele did in 1958 in Sweden, Maradona in Mexico '86 and Zidane's France '98 at least. These men had to deliver the magic even in the actual final, and it was not the finals that made them great. They were already tops and the wizardry of the last games of the World Cups became the seal of approval. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

South African football such a shame.

South Africa football is one of mixed fortunes both literally and figuratively. The game is moneyed and success is scarce. Who is to blame? Let us start pointing fingers as usual.

I would love to look at the league and then the national team. There is no secrecy about the funding of the ABSA Premier League as it is bankrolled by one of the biggest money houses in Africa. ABSA pumps a cool sum as they do for the Rugby. Springboks are a leap ahead, naturally, as you know that it is a sport enjoyed by the majority of the people who have R18 billion at ABSA.

You should remember how the African majority race complained about SA Rugby being not black enough. ABSA were warned not to raise a voice because they will have R18 billion out of the door by noon. The bank 'shooshed'. That is politics and you know how dumb I am on the subject.

Calls from all foreign coaches who have come to South Africa as national team mentors have been that the league should depot all aliens and play the Kasi boy so as not to dilute style and give local jimbos more play time. That fell to deaf ears even to the Oliphants that you would expect to hear well low-frequency resonance given the big ear flaps.

The other issue especially articulated by Carlos Alberto Pereira was that of the reserve league. As noble as the suggestions are, they meet the standards of the association and the league, but club owners have a different agenda. If the locals do not give them the mileage they need to be on top, requesting for extra expenses running a reserve team is not business at all. Here, the game dies.

 My personal opinion has always been a COSAFA or CECAFA Champions league. Surely, the PSL can influence ABSA to fund the project. This gets Southern African teams enough international practise for the Africa Champions league and even help moderate players get international game time.

Supersport also pour huge sums into the game and they would benefit with a wider viewership. I understand they have arrangements with the league for a few appearances here and there, which is commendable, but they would increase the interest with Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs playing in Kampala, Dar es salaam or Kinshasa regularly. That exposure for the teams and the Superdiski will be healthy for business.

That will render the issue of getting less foreigners in South Africa and even in cases where that is not the case, it will build healthier relationships amongst the nations and their players. I would actual advocate for the Bosnian rules to apply in the region. 

The average national team of South Africa get a cold from the cough of the league, naturally. Bafana Bafana are struggling to be a noticeable African force, even at COSAFA level, pretending it is not so important sometimes. If the league be dead, they national team is rotten. 

Further from the bad quality from the league players, coach Pitso Mosimane called closer cooperation from all stakeholders to ensure the national team is thoroughly prepared for the their games. There is risk of failing to qualify for 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 Fifa World Cup starting in June this year. What am I talking about by saying risk? The team has not qualified for the current tournament, so it is actually more normal to fail to qualify.

Mosimane has failed to get Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Golden Arrows players recently for the 0-0 South Africa draw with Equatorial Guinea fielding five uncapped players in the starting line-up and handing three more rookies their maiden caps in the second half. That drama continued forcing the coach to call five more players to replace those called by their clubs.

At the earliest convenience, Pitso's head will be on the block for a poor job done. Really? The love for success at national level and our contribution to that are way parallel. Mosimane was quoted saying, "We need to look at how serious we all are about preparing Bafana for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament that we are hosting, as well as the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers that start in June." Knowing what we know, that is a long shot call and all I can do is wish him luck for both the cooperation he desires and keeping his job.

Bafana Bafana have never been good enough to be world beaters and gliding through luck in the earlier years gave the impression that the squad is world-class. The time to work for the results came and there were no answers.The collective effort demanded by the coach to ensure the team's readiness for tournaments ahead will be a chorus he will sing until he enters the job market soon, probably because of his hoarse voice and SAFA will be seeking for more melodious vocal chords to sing the same tune. 

What never ceases to amaze it the audacity to question the Bafana FIFA ranking. SAFA and the nation forget that like a bank account, it is what you put in the football that counts, and not the size of the egos. When it comes to the playing field, Bafana are just like ball boys. 

The best defender of the country warms the bench in lower divisions in England. The best midfielders does the same at the Barclays Premier League. The nation's number goalkeeper is going for trials with lower divisions in England soon. Compare that to the best player in Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, Mali and Ghana. For most of the time, Bafana are not even a top 10 African team, yet the resources and facilities are world-class. 

In any case, the boys from Kasi should be taking their game from the streets and try to make a statement in big teams in the league. All youngsters are glued to TVs and PCs playing video games, but the nations needs them to carry the flag high. All that the parents can do, is take these gadgets away and let the boys take to the field and hopefully, one day, Bafana Bafana will be what we once thought they were. 

As it is now, it is a big shame.

Monday, January 16, 2012

There is no formation like 4-3-3 or 4-4-2

The 4-3-3 football schemeWith football stories and results predictably uninspiring all over the world, we continue in viewing the game with my game. I have always been fascinated by the issue of formations and substitutions. 

For a full-time coach, there is not enough time in 24 hours to do the job. Reacting to variables like injuries and change of weather is a serious challenge. This is simply because all the plans revolve around players and their playing relationship.

Incapacitation of one parameter means a change of formation. The formation is vital if you have a philosophy and pattern you want to impose on the opposition. The formation is the skeletal arrangement of personnel from the goalkeeper onwards.

The goalkeeper forms the top and main part of the spine. Then comes the central defender, central midfielder and the striker.  Given the backbone function of the keeper, leaving representation of his position in naming a formation is ridiculously annoying.

Take heart that not only you make the mistakes. Even accomplished and respected mentors use the notations like 4-3-3, 3-5-2, 5-3-2 or 4-4-2. Mostly, the excuse would be that everyone is using it.
These notations should read 1-4-3-3 and 1-4-4-2, unless the goalkeeper is not part of the team. According to the FIFA Laws of the Game, it is clearly stated that the match shall only commence when a team composed of 7 players (or 8 depending on the competition or rules thereof) ‘of which one must be a goalkeeper’.

Therefore, having had this free education, desist from a misedutated notation of the technical lingo of the game and train yourself on the proper use of terms. Teach others too.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How a football club is structured - By Rafa Benitez

I have always maintained that those of us who work in football are privileged. And that's because we get paid for a job we love and are passionate about. And in my case, I have been lucky enough to have worked in different countries, to have observed different cultures and ways of working, to have benefited from those experiences and this gives me, I believe, some idea of being able to analyse things from a different perspective, from the outside.

When certain people talk about signings, and how to go about them, the market value of players, the reasons why you buy or sell a player, you can see that some of them don't really know the true situation which can be very confusing for the fans. So in this article I will try to explain my point of view based on my experience.

Obviously I will try to focus on my area of responsibility in the club. That is the football, the playing direction given by the manager or the coach as the case may be.

Club Structure

What you first need to establish when you go to a new club are the aims of the club and the resources available to achieve them. So it is essential to analyse in depth the club organisation, its management structure and their different functions especially if you are in a foreign country.

The rules, the fixture list, the squad, the staff at the club and their roles, the situation regarding players contracts, the environment, the culture, the club tradition… knowledge of all these are essential to being able to take the right decisions. At least for those who are depending on you.

In Spain or Italy there is usually a 'Director of Football' or 'Chief Scout' who in theory is responsible for signing the Coach and putting the squad together. In the majority of cases, though not all, they usually consult the man in charge at the time, but in many other cases the President or owner, who is in charge of everything, has the last say.

In England though, it is the Manager who, also in theory, is responsible for the football, and therefore has the authority to decide how to put the squad together.

In practice, both types of structure depend on one premise: the money available for transfers and salaries. The 'Manager' on the one hand, or the Coach on the other, will have to consider the inescapable fact that they can sign only the three or four players on their list. That's how it is. At least in the case of the 'Manager' he can choose the ones he wants.

Make-up of the Squad

As the man in charge of the technical side, you have to decide on the model of play, how you want the team to express itself on the pitch, or at least how you would like them to play. It is important to get to know your players, to talk to them so they can give you information on the composition of the squad and then you have to try to complement it with players who can enhance it and put in to practice what you want to do on the pitch. If you can't do this, you will have to adapt and trust that they will give you support when you need it.

Then you have the rules governing contracts in each country, and they are also different for teams competing in international competitions. There are leagues where it is compulsory to play at least five players from that country, others where there is a limit on foreign signings, and others where there is an 'A' and 'B' list of players… In the end, each country, each league, has its own peculiarities and you have to know them thoroughly and above all digest them quickly before you put the squad together and / or tweak it.

This is where the plan, the football project, comes in to play, and with owners from the world of business coming in to football, you can only call it a 'Business Plan'. Again I will refer to my own experience. When I went to Italy there was no 'Business Plan'. I was only told about it on the last day of the transfer window, when they suddenly and surprisingly said that we were going to follow the 'Financial Fair Play' initiative. I will leave it there. In Spain, the continuous dialogue with club officials keeps you up to date on the economic constraints so you know where you are. Although once, I found myself with a surprise signing of a striker by the President on the last day in August because, as he was on loan, he was cheap.

In England, specifically at Liverpool during my first three seasons, the Chairman and the Chief Executive kept me informed of the restrictions and options that we had. Later on though, the club structure changed, and over time, 'Business Plans' became more and more important than any football project when it came to making decisions.

Something that should not be forgotten is the analysis of the Academy. Incorporating local players always gives more affinity with the club and sensibly reduces costs. In Italy and Spain the organisation depends on the 'sporting director' and the Coach has little input in to it. Nevertheless, in England it can be the case, as happened at Liverpool in my last year, that the Manager has control over the youth system and can follow a style of play in all age groups and with more continuity. Barcelona's model is popular right now. There is no better or more evident example.

If there are no players at youth level in the club who have the requisite ability, you have to resort to the transfer market.

The 'Sporting Director' or the Manager has to manage a transfer Budget, and on top of that, take players' wages in to account. A good scouting system is necessary and essential, although not infallible, and the money available in both cases will affect the market you can access. The income from selling and net spend are more important for the Manager than the Coach. The former tries to consider the future of the club and win at the same time. The latter, the way football is going, only tries to win and cost has less importance.

Rules and specific types of organisation

What also has to be considered are different International regulations. Usually the required list of available players is restricted to 25 for the first team and in some countries, like Spain, you can use youth players for up to five matches, after which the player has to be included in the first team squad.

In England, you can use the reserves, which we used to try to develop youngsters by gaining experience so they could move up to the first team. Then you have the U18s. Some of these players, especially if they are coming from abroad, must have professional contracts or you run the risk of losing them to other clubs. This was what people often talked about when I was at Liverpool, either through ignorance or 'bad faith', that we signed a lot of players when in actual fact many of them were for the younger age groups and some of them I did not know. In Spain, these signings who join the second team or the youth teams are not considered signings for the first team. And it is the same in Italy.

Champions League Rules and Regulations

Another set of rules that, unfortunately, we always had to take in to account was the local players and home country players for Champions League list. This number has now reached four players brought through the club Academy and four players of the home country. If you have spent three years at the club before you reach 21, you are considered local.

Again there are differences. As Coach, if you can, you plan for your team and the sporting director plans for the squad. But as a Manager you have to plan for the future of the club. At Liverpool one of our priorities was to bring players from abroad and sign them three years before they reached 21, like Ayala, Pacheco or Insua. In that way, under the rules at the time, they would be considered local players, saving money in transfers and contracts, with the possibility of including them on the Champions League list. In Spain and Europe in general, as a Coach, you are only involved in future planning if you keep winning and you are allowed to stay a few years. Few manage to do it.

As always, these are opinions emanating from my experience and they look to provide football fans and people who follow our website with views from a different perspective, another point of view which maybe they have not been aware of. Finally, a thought that keeps occurring to me is that although you hear something repeatedly, it is not necessarily the truth.

(Originally from Eurosport.com)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Highlanders - This is painful.

Themba Ndlela works for a company in the Midlands and has worked at Edgars while he was Treasurer of the Club at the time I was Technical Advisor. Whatever happened to the man, I just do not know. He did a good job working in an Executive that was led by the late Colonel James Mangwana Tshuma (MHSRIP). This gives one the impression that he is dull, education-proof if he cannot learn from the best , but he is a degreed man who went to University with the Vice-President Professor Welshmen Ncube. Therefore, on that note, I would beg to differ. This guy has an idea of how to do his job. He may be clowning or what, I do not know. 

For starters, his challenger in his early forties or so, is Mandla Moyo. Frankly, he could be a colleague of mine that I am trying to remember well. I know he owns Sparrows Football Club that once played in the Division One league.He was well off and had a fleet of Kombis, a spares shop and owned a few buildings in town. This tells you of a business man who knew his football and has commitments elsewhere, like Ndlela.

Highlanders Football Club is a big team. They have a destination and the arrival time is here. Bosso cannot afford to live in the shadow of Caps United, Dynamos and FC Platinum. People who have loved and worked for the team cannot sit and watch at the rot. The team has to come back. Have we forgotten the Black and White road shows of old? With loud music and the get downs?

Accepting to be average and mediocrity has seen trophies and championships slip through the fingers. Since when has the Cathedral of Football known as BF become a slaughter-house of Amahlolanyama? Tshilamoya has become an ordinary name. This is thew year to take the team back, to set the standards. Mantengwane is a team that always set the standards. We set the pace and others follow. 

The Annual General Meeting of the team takes place on the 29th of January 2012. A week later, the fans will flock to elect the top brass of the team. There is no secret of the anger and disgruntlement of the nation that is in and out of the nation.There will be a lot demanded from Themba Ndlela and company. They were mandated with carrying the aspirations and pride of the legion of followers, supporters and fans from all over the world.

What have they have to show for our trust and faith? One cannot hide the feeling of betrayal and abuse from the elected leaders. It is not easy to wait painfully for that long to cast a vote. It cost money to make a date and travel to The Clubhouse. There will be lunch and drinks to buy. There is a risk of the traffic accidents and being in the crossfire when things get nasty.  All the bad things that can happen in between cannot equal the realisation that people trusted with your emotions are happy trampling on the hearts of many with a clear conscience. We can help but feel used.

The men who do this to us are not just unfair, but very abusive and deserve to be absent in our midst. The team cannot be taken for a ride. The team is supreme and people must respect the Club, the black and white colours, the stadium and the culture of winning. It is Bosso's right to rule and rule it shall, and it is not a privilege. 

 There is no-one above the team or the club and no one shall be excused for abusing the constitution and their office to follow their personal agendas at the expense of the club. Who do they think they are? What are they? Highlanders is not just a name, a team, a club or a personal property. It is a way of life. It is a lifestyle.

There are times when even the larger populace entertain abusing the team by neglecting to renew membership and subscription. That is criminal and must stop now. Cheap talk does not have room at the club. The club is an action packed lifestyle that accepts nothing but  the best of all participates and it cannot be a vehicle of failure. It must never be. You cannot expect the best from the team if you are not applying the best yourself, otherwise you become worse that the failing executive. You become birds of a feather with them.

People painted their dogs, houses, bicycles and regalia black and white. Many have lost their lives for the team and may their souls rest in eternal peace. There are people who have lost families and relationships. There are people who have no identity for the sake of the team. Some people are called Highlander, Bosso or Mantengwane and then you find the lack of seriousness going on in the club.

Themba Ndlela who should be knowing this more than anyone else. How many years did he serve the club? How much effort and energy did they waste for Bosso and for what? What have they have to show for it? What? No this shall not be allowed to go on. It can't. Never. 

Look, I honestly do not think at this time Ndlela carries the fire that saw us beat everyone in our sight and collected silverware after silverware. I am not asking for Mangwana Tshuma to rise up from the grave, or Zenzo Moyo and Thulani Ncube to don the black and white shirts and play. They did their part and they are done. I am demanding the respect of the team back. Bring the respectability and let us bring fear to our foes. Little boys now do not respect the team. They crawl left and right to touch our genitals willy nilly. That must end and the bug must stop with Ndlela in his new term. Let us vote him back to fix his mess and carry these demands unconditionally.

The issues coming forth is always that  of finance. That is his problem and not the teams'. That is not our baby. We demand a winning team that is well-financed. If he cannot sourced funds, what is he doing contesting? Ndlela must make a plan and soon. He must sell air, stones, soil or manure, whatever,finish and klaar. He must know the expectation of the people and that all the weight is on his shoulders. The ineptitude of his last term is not acceptable. Not at all.

The time to talk is gone. Now he must walk the talk. We are tired of excuse after excuse.We are rebuilding' is a banned phrase this year. I am not sure if anyone will be prepared for a telling dominance in obvious cases. The team should be fighting for honours and not 3rd, 4th and 5th. No Cups in the cabinet. Ndlela and company must not waste our time and play with our feelings.

As the date comes close, please, let us know what is happening on a regular basis. We cannot have stale news of each and every situation and having the executive shelving petty issues and hoping they will die natural deaths. The Club has governing statutes that run it, but most of the secrecy is crazily unnecessary. In trying to pry and dig for information, people think e-Diski.com is a Bosso property, or its mouth piece. They think I am based in the office. They assume I get paid.   

The comparison with other teams that I am tired comparing to or even bored typing their names, they have well-manned websites. The team should be running a up to date official website, blog and official Facebook page. Have you realised how many Facebook pages fans and supporters have made in trying to get motivated, to get information and pushing the passion? There is Bosso this, Highlanders that and Tshila so and Mantengwane here. It is like the club is secret service and we are tired of that kind of ineptitude.

We must have breaking news on matters of the club and we cannot be negotiating deals with the executive over our team begging for public information. As members, is it that we must pay membership and go to the stadium to cough up and the shut up? It does not work like that. Come forth and be open. I did not even want to mention how much lack of consultation is going on, but we know. The honeymoon is over and by trusting you with Bosso, it is not a license to abuse our faith, our trust and happiness. We are making this year of 2012, a time of our joy. 

I will get into your affairs a bit. Doing development business deals with First Mobile Sports Academy is a visionary move. I wish to thank Isaac Mbedzi for that and everyone really should do so. The unfortunate part is the lack of iron fist that is leading to politics and personal issues coming into the works. 

As for the composition of the technical team, I believe it could have been better, but maybe there is an excuse why you chose it that way. Kelvin Kaindu was a fire-brand striker and went to a coaching school that I respect and I may attend myself this year. How much muscle he will have is something we will never know. I would want to believe the choice was based on ability than a 'sale tag' and that he will be able to spend on the material he wants. I am not sure if the vision is that the assistants will take over from him when he is done. 

How many times have we seen assistants just being bench warmers and being discarded after they have been 'schooled' by head coaches? Kaindu is likely to read this. Brother, play football. Win games so you can fill the stadium. You are not new to that culture. You know the euphoria. People are tired of mediocrity and I know you have a very strong football background. You came at a point where you have a choice of playing good football, better football or the best football. Not winning is prohibited. I have no doubt you know expectation. When you fail to get any support, tell us. Waiting to speak after you are gone does not help you, the fans or the club. www.tsendex.blogspot.com will spying on your well being.

From experience, less emphasis is put on paper-work. Social football times are gone. There must be written plans that you, Ndlela, as Chairman must know what they mean, read them, and understand. They must be the GPS to show where we are going. You are ever the co-pilot, the Captain of the ship. Trust on your instincts and put your balls in the vice, not what you have shown so far, we are fed-up.

There has been a lot of mistakes and mishaps caused by your Executive and that time ends with you here. I have always wanted to say whoever can take the reins, let them do so on their accord and we see where they will take the team, but I wish to apologise to the candidature and person of Mr. Moyo and say, let Ndlela take the Chair and let him know that we are watching. Watching like hawks. Let's vote Ndlela in.