The making of a soccer captain

2011-03-26 16:36

The axe has been hovering over the head of Bafana Bafana captain ­Aaron Mokoena ­regarding whether he was ­even suitable to be in the team – let alone captain – for some time.

But like the saying that great players do not necessarily make great coaches, the same is true for great players who do not necessarily make good leaders.

However, there have been a few exceptions through the years, with the likes of Diego ­Maradona having gone on to lead ­Argentina, Michel Platini captaining France and ­Roberto Baggio being Italy’s skipper.

Dutch legend Ruud Gullit also captained his country.

But Pele, regarded by many as the world’s best player ever, never captained Brazil.

A glance at former Bafana captains shows that most of those who took charge like Sphiwe Mkhonza, John Tlale, Eric Tinkler and Ricardo Katza, were average players who would not necessarily command regular places – and most of them played on a temporary basis.

However, their leadership qualities could not be questioned as they commanded the respect of their team-mates.

The first Bafana captain, Neil Tovey, who led the team 29 times between 1992 and 1997, believes a team leader should lead by example on and off the field.
He says a captain should be the first to do everything in the team – first to arrive and last to leave.

“He should be able to perform his tasks well and must be ever-present. As your ears and eyes on the field of play, he should be able to command the respect of his team-mates and control the proceedings,” explained Tovey.

But Tovey said that some people ­perform well with added responsibility while others do ­better without it.

Steve Komphela, who captained Bafana from 1992 to 1995 on 18 occasions, believes ­leaders are born and not made.

Komphela says he is a typical example of an average player who was a good leader.

He believes a player does not necessarily have to be exceptional to be a successful leader.

“He should at least average five out of 10, but he must be ­consistent. I was not a highly talented player, not too bad nor very excellent, but I was consistent. I was an ordinary player but with personality and character, and that is what you need from a captain.

“A captain should be the kind of a person who is elevated by the quality he has around him and be able to bring out the best from players,” said the Free State Stars coach.

Komphela says a skipper should always keep the team ­together and ensure that there were no divisions.

With the national team ­captaincy becoming a contentious issue, the jury is still out on whether Steven Pienaar will make a good leader.

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