Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Professor Neto Esphezim attacks South African coaches at the SAFCA symposium

I could not believe my eyes when I saw Professor Neto Esphezim, my mentor at the Brazilian Football Academy in Rio de Janeiro in 1999. Together with Carlos Alberto Perreira and Julio Cesar Leal, they formed a formidable team of instructors for the Advanced Diploma on Brazilian Football for Foreign Coaches and Trainers.

Professor Neto humbly introduced himself as an expert of the game with over 60 years of experience working all over the world with associations and Fifa. He has been an instructor of the Fifa since 1978 while sitting in their technical committee.
The Prof allowed for the excited coaches to laugh at the 7-1 before he began a frank address. In a symposium attended by the country’s top coaches from the ABSA Premier League clubs, former Bafana Bafana coaches and junior coaches and legends of the South African game, he began with the state of the Brazilian coaching arrangement.
In their 21 states, with each having an association for the coaches, he explained how their 100 000 registered members obtained police clearances to weed off paedophiles. All coaches worked full-time and earned a minimum of $1,500.00 per month.
He went a level higher to ask how many coaches were in the room. As excited as we were, we raised our hands. He asked who had read a football that day, then that week, month and year. None raised their hands. He barked that loudly with a disappointed voice, how the room was full of imposters.
This was in reference to the Amazulu versus Moroka Swallows match that appalled him.   The biggest problem with that game was the great athleticism and hard running from the very beginning. ‘If you score a goal in the first minute, how do you spend the next 89 running like headless chickens clocking the ball forward like that? When do you breathe and when do you think? Incredible!!’  
Prof Neto authored many books and he informed the audience how he read over 960 football-coaching books in his coaching life. Coaches needed to update their knowledge with changing trends of the game and training methods. ‘You are all nothing.’
He wondered if we could plan and conduct a proper professional training session and even read and analyse the game. H expressed his disgust at what he saw on television. He watched 6 matches during the past week which were fair. He saw something else he never had a clue what it was. He had to ask someone what it was and the answer was that it was ‘soccer’.
That answer proved that he could have never known since he was a football man, and not a soccer man. Already he was addressing the people who coached soccer and not football. The challenge for all to up their game and work professionally was emphasised as the most important aspect for all.
He made this point stronger with an example of single mothers who struggle to make ends meet in poor Brazil. The women prefer lunch boxes for the boys, take them by hand to school, go back to school later to pick them up and head to the football training grounds.
These children feel the need to come daily from training due to their love for the ball. Parents invest money and emotions as these children mean everything to these mothers. However, more often than not, the children drop out of school before even reaching high school to pursue football. What justice is there that these football-loving children end up with coaches who coach them wrongly?
Who would love to bear the conscious of knowing that they have been robbing the children’s future with bad technical and tactical training from inception? The obvious truth is that the human spirit dictates that no effort is spared to equip youngsters with the best ever coaching possible and by the best possible coaches dedicated to the game.
He briefly went through the 2014 Brazil Fifa World Cup Technical Report. African teams played 5 % higher than normal except for Ivory Coast who were below par. Costa Rica and Columbia were 10 % better than normal. The world top nations from Europe and South America played below par.
The African problem remained that of poor mentality and inability to handle pressure. They failed to handle the excitement to qualify to a higher level and collapsed when they needed to be firm. That lack of competence to deal with the pressure of success destroyed the inroads made in technical and tactical improvements.
Chile and The Netherlands were the most productive teams while Algeria and Germany fixture was viewed as the most interesting match of the tournament tactically.    
‘In Brazil, we don’t like football. We are in love with the ball’. He concluded to a huge round of applause.