READER’S VIEW: Cast the net wider
Posted: 7 July 2014 Time: 15:11
KickOff.com reader Tshepo Letsoalo provides an argument against only looking at local candidates for the vacant Bafana Bafana position.
I read a very interesting, and well written article by an avid Bafana Bafana fan who is adamant that hiring a foreign coach for our disgraced national team would be the wrong move. I beg to differ … but only slightly. My point of view on the issue is that the best man for the job should be placed in the position IRRESPECTIVE of nationality.
READ: Reader's View: Not another foreign coach!
We tend to view sport in a different light to other professions, and rightly so because it is vastly different in terms of expectation and entertainment value in comparison to a ‘normal’ 9-5 job. However, there are times where we should apply ‘normal’ employment practices to sport. One of these practices means employing the right people in the right positions in order for them to affect change positively. If these people are South African, GREAT. If we have to source foreign talent then also GREAT, as long as the people are ably qualified to do the job. We tend to look at sport as an insular entity because of its engrossing and elevated nature for the reason that it drives so much of our nation’s emotions. But we needn’t forget that it is a corporate, professional being that needs to be managed as such. And one of these ways is by refining our employment practices to ensure that we hire the people best for the job. Nationality should not be a defining criteria for any position.
The writer in the article mentioned above also made the argument that all countries that have won the World Cup had local coaches. Fair point. However, this argument is slightly flawed for two reasons. The first of these is that all the countries that have won the World Cup are traditionally strong football nations. Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Spain etc. are all great footballing nations. They may have won the tournament in years they were not favourites but ultimately none of those countries’ winning could be labelled a real shock or against the odds. I will not argue with facts but simply the point that I am making is that an ably qualified foreign coach could have led those countries to the World Cup as well. Also, because these countries are strong football nations with good structures and competitive leagues, there would be less reason for them to look externally for coaches.
Secondly, I also took the liberty of looking at the past winners and respective coaches of the countries that have won the Africa Cup of Nations since 1994:
1994 - Nigeria - Clemens Westerhof (Netherlands)
1996 - South Africa - Clive Barker
1998 - Egypt - Mohamed Al Gohari
2000 - Cameroon - Pierre Lechantre (France)
2002 - Cameroon - Winfried Schafer (Germany)
2004 - Tunisia - Roger Lemerre (France)
2006 - Egypt - Hassan Shehata
2008 - Egypt - Hassan Shehata
2010 - Egypt - Hassan Shehata
2012 - Zambia - Herve Renard (France)
Even split. 5 wins by foreign coaches. 5 by local coach (3 by the same coach). Certainly no evidence that a local coach is better suited to guide their nation to victory. In fact, it is damning that the five foreign coaches who have won are from Europe, a continent we often condemn as having little understanding of our footballing philosophy and culture.
This leads me to another point around culture. Admittedly each country has its own culture and preferred method of play but football has grown to be so universal that there is a cross-pollination of cultures which forces coaches to adopt varying tactics irrespective of the culture of the country. For instance, Brazil are known for their flamboyant ‘samba' philosophy, but if one looks at the Brazil team of the past few years it would be a stretch to say they still play ‘samba’ football - they have adopted a 4-2-3-1 which came to prominence in the '90s and emanated from Spanish football – a European country. Not to labour the point but what I am saying is that as important as it is to maintain an identity and philosophy that is native to a nation, we need to accept that football is universal and in order to grow we have to adopt foreign policies (tactics, philosophies, coaching methods).
Instead of confining our search to a local coach, we need to spread the net throughout the global village to try find the best man for the job based on qualifications, vision and ability to develop youth structures. That is my overarching point. If this person is deemed to be local then GREAT, if it is a foreign coach then also GREAT. It would be further damaging to our football to dismiss European coaches with extensive pedigree and records of success for a local coach simply because he knows our culture. The job is bigger than that.
Ultimately though, the bigger issue here is around development and proper administration of our football structures, as mentioned by the writer of the previous article.
By Tshepo Letsoalo
READ: Reader's View: Not another foreign coach!
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