CHILLIN’ WITH SAZI
Coaching qualifications must be a minimum, not an option
One of the reasons our professional game is in such a poor state is that a lot of coaching staff are not qualified
Eleven coaches have been fired in the 16 Premier Soccer League teams and the prospect of that number increasing before the end of the season on May 21 cannot be discounted.
Three matches remain for most PSL teams going into the weekend and, given what has already happened, you can’t say the merry-go-round of PSL coaches is over.
The constant firing of coaches is not a new phenomenon in the PSL. In fact, if a season were to finish without a coach being fired, it would be big news not only on our shores.
Some clubs like Chippa United change coaches more than once a season. Normally when a coach is fired, another who is deemed to be of equal if not better stature is hired as a replacement. But what has been happening this season has left some of us wondering if those who came in to replace those who were fired are ready, qualified and good enough to do their job.
In some cases, like at Lamontville Golden Arrows where former players Mabhuti Khenyeza and Vusumuzi Vilakazi have been appointed as co caretaker coaches, a permanent coach may come in before the start of next season.
But these temporary appointments have not gone unnoticed, with some pointing out the damage ill-qualified coaches could do to our professional football image, our game and players.
This was highlighted last week when Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena was asked if he was happy with all these replacement coaches that have come in at certain clubs.
If there are requirements for coaching at the highest level as Rulani Mokwena says, why are they not being enforced?
“The coaching fraternity in SA is on very serious life support,” was Mokwena’s response.
“I don’t hear a lot of us talking about it and it’s not for me to discuss, but at the end of the day it’s a sad reality. I see a lot of things happening in football and I ask myself if the coaching fraternity is really respected in this country.
“Maybe one day we’ll discuss this (professional coaching in SA) but I do expect the media to be speaking about some of these things. From a club licensing perspective there are certain requirements that people must have for them to sit on the bench.
“And then we see a lot of things that are happening in our country where people just sit on the bench, people just coach players.
“What does that say about the hours that some of us put in to work hard to get to the level we’re at? It’s cheap labour."
Shying away from tackling this issue won’t help. Mokwena is right to ask if this can be viewed as “cheap labour”. It may well be, but we’ll never know if we let those making these appointments get away with it.
The fundamental question that we should be asking is where is the law and if there are requirements for coaching at the highest level as Mokwena says, why are they not being enforced?
If we had a functioning SA Football Association (Safa) that was really in charge of the PSL, Mokwena wouldn’t be saying these things because Safa would be in control and any professional club appointing a coach, caretaker, assistants or any technical team member would first have to produce his qualification to the authorities.
Everyone does what they please in this country because the requirements are disregarded and there’s no one enforcing them.
The end result is what we see on the football pitch, where some of our professional players lack basic skills. When we have that at a professional level, we can’t expect to have a Bafana Bafana that will qualify for the big tournaments.
Coaches like Mokwena cannot just leave this matter to the media. SA coaches must be part of the solution. They should speak to Safa and the PSL and insist only qualified people sit on the benchs of professional clubs, be it the top flight or the National First Division.
Those breaking the rules should be named, shamed and fined and then be fired on the spot. When that happens than you won’t have people asking why someone who’s been a general manager at Chippa, Morgan Mammila, now doubles up as the club assistant to young coach Kurt Lentjies.
“I started my journey as a coach many years ago in the amateur ranks. I used to own a team called Mmatlopo United that played in the Sekhukhune region. I won the league twice there; we beat all the teams in the Limpopo regions, and that was when I started talking to Baroka because they saw what I was doing there,” explained Mammila.
That there’s nothing in Mammila’s response that refers to his qualifications says a lot about our football authorities who are doing nothing about those who are breaking the law.
Such things make a mockery of our professional league. But as I said, it will take the likes of Mokwena to form a strong professional coaches’ body for people to stop taking their profession for granted.
For the sake of our game and its future, we need to waste no time in correcting this. It certainly doesn’t sound right.