Its not every day you are greeted by two exciting headlines- yes; allow me call them headlines, though one is very stale news.
The first is one of an article most of us would want to agree with but at the same time accompany with question marks, especially if you are a football fan in Kenya. A brief look at the ‘author’ and the words accompanying the piece, my best description would be that of parallel disconnect and absolute pretence guided by greed and punctuated by forces that hate the beautiful game.
Take a brief look at this; Published 27 August 2012 on nairobi.hivisasa.com – An article on Panacea for quality results in Kenyan football with a bias to clubfootball.
The second great headline is coincidentally on the same line but on an appointment perspective. Kenya is set to appoint a new coach in the next few days. Sources though indicate its Adel Amrouche; I’m still not so sure if he will be the one. You will remember clearly- this current federation rode to office on the wave of changing the way the game is run in this country. It wouldn’t be fair to wholly trash their existence and what they have done in the short time but truth be told- they’ve been so many appointments and firing in the football circles you might mistake the whole federation for a personal company.
I must say I am glad the league is one of the best running football entity at the moment; the fans are getting their way back to the stands; the clubs getting more and more revenue- in short business is now better but it’s not right and not fair- the national team is not any better.
A little journey down memory lane; I was a teenager then but I remember so clearly in 2003. Cape Verde wept back to the airport as Kenya made their way to the African Cup of Nations. Deluded as they might have looked, one thing shone in their faces. Hope that one day they will take part in the continental showpiece. 10 years down the line, even players who helped Kenya’s cause of making it to the 2004 AFCON can only watch the match on TV like most of us. Guys my age who watched that match and had hopes of ever donning the national team jersey one day are now struggling to pay a few shillings to glue their eyes on some restaurant screen and watch Cape Verde play.
Further coincidence; 2004- Kenya beat Burkina Faso 3-0 in their final group match after losing to Mali and Senegal. Today, Burkina Faso eliminated a strong Togolese side to make the semi-finals of the same competition for the first time.
Clearly you can see; in a timeline of 9 years, teams we could easily beat are making their mark at the continental stage while all we do is whine and watch the EPL, boast about one/two/three stars we have playing for some top European sides.
Back to the coaching issue; No doubt, good coaching and effective management of it is vital in the discovery of talent and harnessing them to be world-beaters.
Appointments are in all fairness very good in helping improve the game, especially if the appointed is a coach who’ll add some value to the national side. Each country’s FA does appointments but I think where we differ is the ‘value addition’ part.
Value addition to me involves management, understudy and commitment.
Are we appointing a manager who will be fully in charge or are we appointing somebody we can toss around like a yoyo? A good manager of course will understand how important relating with others affects his job. From the top (federation) to the bottom (grassroots). A good rapport between the three will be the perfect ingredient for success no doubt.
Understudy; Again I would drag the federation into this; are we appointing a coach who will allow others to understudy and learn a thing or two from him. This is the first step for me in helping make a structure for the nation- not just for the present but also even for the future.
With a proper understanding between him and the other coaches- it’s only logical that a proper structure will be laid as to how players are selected, conduct themselves and even play. Without forgetting the fact that player development currently lays with the football clubs we have and the few hands in which they solely lie.
The greatest challenge thus is to provide the best coaches with the opportunity to develop and for that it constantly needs to borrow from the clubs and the professional side of the game.
Let’s not kid ourselves; we have some catching up to do. Yes not just in the smallest of ways but to the extremist of standards. The passion needs to be inculcated back into the game from the highest places to the low rocky pitches of our backyards where we all started kicking some piece of polythene in the name of a ball.
We need someone who shares our passion, our psychology, our philosophy of the game and one who understands the players and that fellow Kenyans can only be got from a Kenyan like us. We are never going to hire forever, hiring is good; but for the long run, can we give our kids, our footballers, our students hope; that one day irrespective of who/what they are; as a result of hard work and commitment, they can lead out the national team as a coach?
Two perfect examples I will always give and they are not so far from each other; A) When Nigeria led by Shaibu Amodu qualified for the World Cup; the NFF went for a Swedish Lars Lagerback and fired him and boy- you saw it, disastrous it was. B) When Cape Verde qualified for the 2013 AFCON; they never went to pick Jose Mourinho to coach their side, they sent their coach to study and learn from him, though a quarter final exit followed; we can all attest, they won so may hearts.
As always I will not forget the time factor. All I wrote up here can never be done in a few months or so. This morning I made a joke on Twitter saying the next coach of the Harambee Stars might never be in that position by Christmas and the responses- all pointed to one act, patience.
So now as we set our eyes on who will be appointed; one thing strikes me with this current federation that runs Kenyan football; we pay too much attention on the players not the process. We have to pay attention on the process.
Processes are like structures. No building is lifted off the ground in hours- time and patience is needed and even sometimes mistakes will be made. Hurting as it is, it’s the path FKF has to follow. I like this quote; “Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.”
Are we hiring the new coach so we just win the Nigerian tie? If yes- we fail again.