Voices

Editorial: Leave football to the coach and players

2019-08-11 17:23

Stay far away from the dressing room; concentrate on what you know best and leave football to footballers.

This is the clear message that former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has sent to politicians and all those who think they are football experts.

In a report submitted to Safa about the team’s performance at the recently concluded Africa Cup of Nations, Baxter does not beat about the bush as he calls Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Safa president Danny Jordaan to order for “interfering” in technical matters.

“The minister of sport was allowed to address the players, against my better judgement, on match day at breakfast. He proceeded to delay the players’ eating by almost 40 minutes, and the content of what was said was more for himself than the players. Unnecessary.

“Post-match reports from South Africa included the minister of sport openly condemning the players and validating everyone who wanted to have a go on social media by assuring people that South Africans had a ‘right’ to criticise Bafana. Our own president [Jordaan] also joined in, only serving to increase the pressures on the already important Namibia game,” Baxter wrote.

This may sound like an excuse from Baxter, but it is the truth that many coaches have been afraid to speak about openly. How many times have we heard of club owners instructing coaches and their crew, or interfering in technical matters? And politicians must do away with the notion of thinking they can inspire players, particularly on the day of the match. It is uncalled for and unacceptable. There was only one Nelson Mandela with his Madiba magic.

The roles of administrators and politicians must end in the boardroom. Allow those tasked with the field work their space and provide only the necessary support to ensure better preparations before tournaments. This will go a long way towards ensuring that a coach actually stays on – or, should one be given the axe, they can be held liable if they fail in their duties and will have no one to blame.

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August 25 2019