Hiring Baxter junior shows Dad’s having a senior moment
Safa and Bafana coach have committed a serious mistake that undermines transformation
The news that Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has appointed his son, Lee, to become the national team’s goalkeeper coach for the crucial Afcon qualifier against Libya this weekend did not come as a surprise to me at all.
Before he accepted the job to take over from Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba in May last year, Baxter wanted Lee to be part of his technical team but the SA Football Association (Safa) refused to grant him his wish for fear of a public backlash.
What has surprised and also appalled me is that the very same suits at Safa House and Baxter have somehow convinced themselves that South Africans are suddenly going to accept this pathetic stunt which smacks of nepotism of the highest order.
Can you imagine the noise that could have been created had Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba or Pitso Mosimane recommended any of their family members to work with them during their tenures as Bafana Bafana coaches?Can you imagine the public outcry had Gordon Igesund did something similar while he was Bafana Bafana coach, or in another instance a politician bending backwards to accommodate someone they are close to in the family?
Whatever spin they are going to dish out in defence of their indefensible actions, Safa must be told that there is something called nepotism in the workplace and it does not have a place at Safa or anywhere else in our football.
I don’t think that Baxter junior is the best goalkeeper coach in the country; we have people who have achieved and are more experienced in the local game and would be suited to help the senior national team.
It must also be remembered that Baxter senior is currently not the favourite among most South Africans to coach Bafana Bafana after his failure to win the Cosafa Cup in Polokwane recently, and insisting on working with his son will only deepen public apathy.
Surely Baxter senior (an Englishman who has made a good living here over many years) and his employers at Suffer (oops) Safa House are aware that we live in a country that has serious government imperatives about transformation.
If you look across the 16 PSL teams, you will find that there are capable goalkeeper coaches like Wendell Robinson at Mamelodi Sundowns, Arthur Bartman of Maritzburg United and Simon Gopane at Bloemfontein Celtic who are far more experienced than Baxter junior.
Robinson is a Caf Champions League and Super Cup winner with Pitso Mosimane and he has played at the highest level in this country for clubs like Moroka Swallows, Wits University and Sundowns.
Gopane, who has played and coached a number of local clubs and junior national teams, was a member of the Bafana Bafana squad for the 1998 African Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso and later at the 1998 World Cup in France as an injury replacement.
Throughout his career, Bartman has played for a whole host of PSL clubs including Kaizer Chiefs, African Wanderers, SuperSport United Dynamos and Moroka Swallows, and he has been imparting his wealth of knowledge at Maritzburg United.
For all we know, Baxter junior may decide to leave this country in future with valuable Bafana Bafana experiences, so why don’t we empower our own like Robinson, Gopane and Bartman?
Safa and Baxter, in overlooking the likes of Robinson, Gopane and Bartman, have committed a serious mistake that undermines transformation and there is no amount of explaining that will make me understand this nonsense.