Fixing local soccer

2010-10-03 11:53

Former Bafana Bafana coach says the Fifa technical report shows employing foreign coaches is destroying Africa’s football.

For as long as African countries depend on ­foreign coaching ­mentalities and do not ­apply their own approach to the development of ­players and performance, the partisans of imported ­coaching ideas will exploit the technical naivety of the ­continent and unemployed, ­below-average coaches from ­Europe and elsewhere will continue to distort football on this continent.

This is fast sinking local football ­deeper into despair.

Fifa’s technical report on the 2010 Fifa World Cup, released recently, suggests once again that football’s highest office has the much-sought-after solutions to African football’s ­development and coaching ­quandary.

Those solutions might, however, not ­benefit Africa, since Fifa itself seems to take a compromising and inconsistent stand on the questionable influence of ­foreign ­coaches on ­African football.

This worrisome conclusion was arrived at following a study of the technical report, comprised of nearly 300 pages of technical, tactical match summaries and observations on football trends.

Spain’s performance in winning the 2010 World Cup stands out as one of the key ­features of the report.

The country is praised for its “highly ­attractive football” – a style that makes the Spanish team “a contender for the team of the century”.

The group behind the ­report suggests that the trend of the future in the game will be skilful, ­inspirational and dynamic football – as demonstrated by Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, which “looks pretty and even ­playful”.

The Netherlands team are criticised for their dreadfully physical tactics in the final which were “littered with fouls”.

The referee’s ­inconsistency was also ­criticised.

However, the most significant and rather provocative aspect of the report, as far as African teams are concerned, is the ­self-contradictory conclusion concerning the hiring of foreign coaches by African ­countries.

The Fifa technical experts found that the factor that contributed most to the failure of five out of six African nations rested with the trend of employing foreign coaches who did not identify with the African culture, mentality and lifestyle.

What makes this conclusion even more ­intriguing is that the need to have native coaches at the helm of their respective ­national teams has been preached by wise men of previous such groups since the 1982 World Cup – with no success.

As it stands now – and immeasurably ­detrimental, too – the elements of African ­players’ inborn characteristics, constitution, temperament, mentality, local traditions and culture are generally disregarded in the ­content of coaching qualification schemes endorsed by the very same Fifa, Uefa and Caf, as well as the national associations in an ­African context and that of global ­coaching ­syllabuses.

The imported “cultureless, ghost” ­coaching requires unconditional acceptance of:

» Limited technique – not too fancy! – no improvisation;

» Only simple tactics – no risk! – no ­unnecessary dribbling! – “play the ball ­forward only! – one-touch football, ­regardless! – play percentage football, not attractive! – hard and uncompromising ­tackling; and

» Fast and furious, with physical ­dominance and a war mentality.

Currently it is prohibited and regarded as absurd for a coach in Africa to apply ­creativity in the use of ball skills and ­improvised movements of players, and to develop tactics where defenders can dribble in the opponents’ box and score goals.

Spanish defenders Pique and Puyol, ­arguably with less natural ability than ­African defenders, can do it in La Liga, but it is forbidden in African football.

The vast majority of foreign coaches ­coming to Africa are not aware that, for ­instance, African players are capable of ­taking tactical risks with amazing efficiency when their superior technique, intricate moves and dynamics are properly ­recognised, ­developed and employed.

Very few – Carlos Alberto Parreira being one of them – have shown an interest in and knowledge of the local culture, ­mentality and lifestyle.

Unfortunately the local coaches, even if they are aware of such attributes in their players, with imported coaching practice at their disposal, do not provide solutions to optimise their players’ strengths.

According to Fifa’s experts and ­independent analyses, African players still have to advance in their ball skill ­development, especially scoring ability, to match the best in the world.

While the question remains - how long is Fifa still going to misinterpret the solutions to African football’s advancement?

An even more pertinent question needs a prompt answer: “With all the answers ­presented to Africa, why does she still have to wait even one day longer before a ­coaching methodology is compiled which is in ­accordance with Africa’s continental and ­regional specificity?”


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