Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Promoting the future of coaches

In the last two weeks, I met 22 coaches in my town in two separate groups. I still have a long itinerary to do so with many other willing coaches. Details of the meetings will be forwarded to the relevant authorities for the sake of coach education and development.

Generally, there is animosity and mistrust at lower leagues. The coaches are owners and coaches of their clubs, and then few are elected into offices of authority to run the affairs of others. The suspicions of working in their own interests at the detriment of others are rife. It reminded of a question I always poised; how a huge city like this one loses teams into LFA leagues.
You may know this story. Three greedy brothers left their rural home to look for greener pastures in the city. Upon their arrival, they could not believe their fortune, stumbling upon a bag full stuffed with crisp notes of hard cash. Since they were very hungry from their sojourn, the youngest was sent to buy food.
He bought the best food, probably fried chicken, and poisoned it. Arriving at the brothers, they stood up, grabbed and killed him on the spot. Before they shared the money, they ate the poisoned food and all died. Along came a foreigner running away from xenophobic attacks, picked the bag and smile all the way to the bank.

Unless men work together, all lose. Football success is directly proportional to the positive input of all stakeholders. The state of football affairs here is dire but solutions are simple, though long term. The obvious challenge borders around the bad experiences of the past.
The consequence of the broken promises is the increased number of naysayers. Many do not even believe they are breathing, no matter how much one tries to prove it to them. The starting point would be basic education school and then life skills to many coaches.
It becomes apparent how successful negative football has been over the years, and how much energy and power is necessary to instil football coach education. It is not a one-night stand, but a long and solid marriage that can build our game to its true potential.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Football coaches need to invest in themselves

(Courtesy of KickOff)
Watching Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs play, most Absa Premier League teams for that matter, it is easy to see the backgrounds of these players lacks fine details required to play well at that level. Furthermore, how much coaching contribute in formulating attacking patterns of the country’s biggest teams, remains to be seen.

One African coach was on my case after the 2010 Fifa World Cup opening match, South Africa versus Mexico. His point was that the best South African player leading to the tournament could not control the ball, not once, not twice. In all cases, losing great scoring opportunities that could have put the match to bed, before Simphiwe Tshabalala scored and after he did, and before the Mexican goal as well as after. Just the conduction of the ball, choice of controlling surface and direction of the touch was enough to conclude that our best player was bad. (and so were his coaches).

Kaizer Chiefs thrive more on their superior defensive behaviour rather than the incisive penetrating patterns. The teams swing hammers at them until they cannot lift their arms and then get battered. As to why the defence is that solid, it is the foreign elements comprising the European nature of the English coach, Stuart Baxter, local players with foreign experience and the massive destruction efforts of bulldozing Zimbabwean anchor, Willard Katsande.
Katsande, like the rest of the best of the South Africa’s central midfielders over the years, comes from Zimbabwe’s development production responsible for products like Tinashe Nengomashe and Ezrom Nyandoro, just to name the recent like for like. The northern neighbours’ systems are flawed but are streets ahead of their local counterparts in many aspects.

In Zimbabwe, each city or town has a strong and active junior committee that is responsible for the fixtures, referees appointment and competitions. The same goes with the schools’ program. The massive differences lie in the hunger to do well by the Zimbabwean coaches. They hunt for information and update their skills at every opportunity.
The support they give to each other spurs them to obtain even superior quality and they utilise every resource available. It is unbelievable the extent to which they can go to seek advice and information. They pay through their nose to attend local and foreign courses and the best part is that they share whatever they get. They sell houses and property if necessary.

By contrast, getting a full house to a free seminar in most parts of South Africa is a huge luxury. Coaches feel they are doing someone a favour by attending. Some feel they know the game, and that exact mentality prove how much they do not. Imagine how hard it would be to have people pay for their coaching education, but proper coach education is expensive.
The cause for this occurrence is simple. Few ‘accidental’ successes made people believe that they are good, and therefore, they became comfortable. They may have been, but the game evolved and they remained in one stubborn spot. Forming solid coaches’ structures may assist, if they can germinate to start with. Coaches need to meet weekly in known informal settings. This is good for the public image and the aspiring coaches get to meet the best mentors in their society.

That platform, above all, affords concrete and relevant discussion about football development, exchange of ideas as well as referrals and recommendation of players. Interaction by coaches from different levels of the game evens out the inequality of the perceived huge gaps between different leagues.