South Africa, Sport

Who’d be a national sports coach in South Africa?

By Antoinette Muller 14 February 2017

South Africa’s three major sporting bodies all find themselves in varying degrees of coaching conundrums. Some are doing better than others but it’s a minor miracle that anyone is even willing to coach the country’s national teams at all. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

Being in charge of a national team is one of the toughest jobs in world sport. The pressure, the expectation, the fact that you are completely dispensable. It’s not the kind of thing any ordinary person would do.

Three of South Africa’s major sporting teams currently find themselves in coaching limbo. Three governing bodies are handling their unique situations well.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) recently told incumbent Russell Domingo that he will have to reapply for his job after the team’s tour to England. CSA insist that they are simply following protocol and process – a foreign concept for many, considering their history with process. Domingo’s charges just racked up their second whitewash on home soil and are busy preparing for the Champions Trophy, where they might have a very real chance of ICC silverware. But no matter what he achieves in the next few months, it’s not good enough to ensure Domingo keeps his job without having to go through HR.

What a contrast that is to the state of affairs over at the South African Rugby Union (SARU).The powers-that-be have kept everyone in the dark over the “will he stay or will he go” merry-go-round of Allister Coetzee’s future. Coetzee’s time in charge has been utterly forgettable, yet there still seems to be some suggestion that he might get to stay on. Oh, what Domingo would do for such a luxury of certainty. But not all signs point to “Pass Go” and “Collect a few million”. Media speculation has suggested everything from Coetzee staying on and his support staff getting the boot to theories that everyone will be told they are no longer required.

For now, the only fact is that we haven’t got a clue despite being told on January 26 that there’ll be a decision next week.

Did SARU learn nothing from waiting until the very last minute to announce Coetzee’s appointment? They might be having private conversations with him, but don’t lead the media astray by saying there will be an announcement “next week” and then shifting the definition of what “next” actually means.

Heck, the president of SARU even went on record, saying they haven’t a clue what they want from a coach or what style of play they want the Boks to adopt. You’d think that with so much uncertainty they’d organise an indaba of sorts. Oh wait, that’s happened, and it’s clearly been as much use as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest.

The good news is that the Springboks have until June before they are presented with yet another opportunity to embarrass themselves. But Super Rugby season is about to start and surely the coaches would like some sort of semblance of what to work on?

That’s what’d happen if they were the South African Football Association (SAFA). No longer the only national sporting embarrassment, the soccer team is also sans coach after Shakes Mashaba was sent packing after pissing off Danny Jordaan.

The good news is SAFA at least know what they want and at a meeting over the weekend they set out the criteria they want their new coach to meet. At the top of the list was an “excellent understanding of the South African playing philosophy”. This shouldn’t be too hard to find considering that Bafana Bafana’s playing philosophy over the last few years has consistently been utterly hopeless. The rest of the corporate waffle includes:

  • International Coaching Experience, especially African competition with a minimum of 5 and 10 years;
  • Good track record;
  • Must possess vision and passion for football development;
  • Minimum of professional coaching licence or equivalent qualification;
  • Good player management skills;
  • Good planning skills;
  • Bound by the Statutes of SAFA, awareness, understanding and respect for SAFA structures and policies;
  • Excellent technical, medical and scientific skills;
  • Willingness to embrace and use of technology and,
  • Excellent communication.

Potential names for the job have ranged from Roy Hodgson to the White Shirt Wearing Wizard of African football, Hervé Renard, but this appointment will not happen without Mashaba making a nuisance of himself. Mashaba filed a case with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) against SAFA for unfair dismissal. And we all thought they were doing so well.

It seems South Africa’s sporting bodies find themselves in a coaching conundrum of some sorts. Some (CSA) are trying their hardest to “do the right thing” but have now seemingly tried too hard. Others (SARU) seem to have no clue what they are doing while the odd one out (SAFA) is grappling with the idea of what is right.

Would you want to work for any of these people? Thought not. Coaching a national sports team is a crap enough job as it is. South African sport should just be glad anyone is willing to coach their teams at all. DM

Photo: South Africa Head Coach Allister Coetzee arrives before the Killik Cup match at Wembley Stadium, London. (BackPagePix)