Baxter did not attend the squad’s morning training session on Tuesday, 8 August as he had gone to meet the Kaizer Chiefs head coach Steve Komphela.
He says he has a lot of ground to cover, as there is so much to discuss.
“It’s a multipurpose visit actually. One, to just talk football, talk how we feel from SAFA side, how we can make progress and get their take on how they feel SAFA can help them make progress; two, to improve the relations with the coaches. There’s no prestige in this but we are just talking football and building bridges. We are also finding out about our national players that are in their clubs – how are they doing, how are they feeling, are they sharp and are they injury free,” said Baxter.
“Thirdly, it is just to make sure that we are all pulling in the same direction, that we are all on the same page and that this becomes more of a partnership than it has been in the past. The only way we can move forward in this country is to mobilise the strengths from all fronts, have less of the acrimony, suspicions and accusations. If we can go some way to hitting those targets they I think it’s worthwhile initiative.”
This is not the first time Baxter has visited a club to discuss football.
“I didn’t start at the top and work my way down. The first visit I did was to Stellenbosch FC in Cape Town, as we were going to use their players for the COSAFA CUP and CHAN. At the time I tried to get hold of Ajax Cape Town and Cape Town City but could not make it, now this window has opened up and I was able to go to Naturena,” added Baxter.
“I was going to do Bidvest Wits tomorrow (Wednesday, 9 August), but we are traveling to East London so I have had to postpone that to when I come back. I will get around to the Johannesburg-based clubs as soon as possible, move to Pretoria and then start spreading it wider. I want to cover as many teams as I can. Even though we have this quite horrendous schedule coming up for the national team, I think this is very important that here and there I should squeeze one visit in.”
The Bafana Bafana mentor is impressed by the reception he has received, which confirms the importance of the initiative.
“It certainly improves relations, and I think the most important thing is that it is welcomed by the clubs, it is not something we want to impose on the clubs. They are very willing to spend some time discussing pertinent issues, and, furthermore, the players, who are all potential national team players at this level, feel stimulated by seeing the head coach of the national team at their training. So as long as the clubs are interested in this sort of thing, then it is a win-win situation for all of us, and most importantly, for South African football,” said Baxter.