SOCCER coaches with no background of playing the game at the highest level say they are forced to work a lot harder than their counterparts who made a name for themselves during their playing days in order to get recognition and respect from all stakeholders.
Nov. 16, 2021
4 min read
Coaches with no playing background at a disadvantage
Bantu head coach, Bob Mafoso
- Former topflight players always make reference of their playing days
- Mentors with no playing experience have to work extra hard to prove themselves
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Bantu head coach, Bob Mafoso and Kick4Life’s Motebang Makhetha are among a group of prominent local coaches who are making a mark in the industry.
However, the two mentors were forced to double their efforts as they never played elite football like most coaches in the local Premier League.
Mafoso got his breakthrough coaching the now defunct Likila FC and led the Butha-Buthe-based outfit to a surprise sixth place in its first year of topflight football during the 2014/15 season.
He attained a similar feat or even better the following season, when he led other Premier League rookies, the also now defunct Sandawana FC to a fourth place finish during the 2015/16 season.
This led to several major local clubs taking notice of his unique coaching talents.
At the time, Mafoso was in his early 30s and it did not take A-Matšo-Matebele long to come calling for his services.
He started his long journey with the Mafeteng-based side as the assistant to head coach James Madidilane.
He left the club for an opportunity to become head coach himself elsewhere, but in no time, his masters recalled him after Madidilane returned to his native South Africa.
In his first season in charge of Bantu, his charges were crowned league champions after the campaign was brought to a halt due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, enjoying a 16-point advantage over second placed Matlama and without a loss.
“Coaches that played in most cases always make reference of their playing days and get the respect of the players because of that,” Mafoso says.
“Whenever they address players, it’s about themselves and what they achieved or how things were done during their playing days. That could make life difficult for you as a coach who didn’t play topflight football, and you must also address the players especially if its players in the national teams or those who have played for such teams.
“They also don’t accept you in their circle. It becomes extremely difficult for you to fit in if you are a coach that didn’t play football at that level,” he says.
Mafoso adds that the only way to win that battle is to seek knowledge and beat the other coaches at their own game.
“It’s about knowledge. Seek knowledge, get people and ways that will help you grow and improve your skills. Even with the clubs, former players who are now coaches get more support from those in the administration of teams because they were admired and still get recognition from what they achieved as players,” he notes.
“Unfortunately, these things are scientific in recent times. You don’t just become a good coach because you were a good player. Look at top coaches in Europe these days, especially those from Germany; Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger. If we leave Germany and come closer to home, we have Rhulani Mokwena, Manqoba Mngqthi. Of course, we also have a lot of top coaches who played football at the highest level, but they invested a lot in coaching education. That’s why I’m saying I don’t think we are giving football a lot of respect because we put the sentiments of those that played and others didn’t play,” he says
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Former Lioli coach, Morena Ramorebuli
Makhetha, who is also the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) Coach Instructor, echoes Mafoso’s sentiments, saying that coaches with no background of playing the game find themselves as unknowns not only to the administration of football, but even the media.
“Generally, I would say the fact that they didn’t play football at the top level they become unknown to football administrators and the media,” he says.
“That’s says, they get quite little recognition and it’s a disadvantage on their part, hence they have to work extremely hard to finally get recognised.
“Getting coaching jobs is also a problem. In most cases they only get hired where a team is desperate with no options of former players available to coach. That is the only way they get employed and if things go well for them then they will eventually get the recognition and respect they deserve, owing to the good work they do,” Makhetha notes.
Free State-born coach, Morena Ramorebuli, who has had two spells with Lioli and is currently mentoring Jwaneng Galaxy of Botswana, has for years been overlooked as a Premier Soccer League coach in South Africa.
But he recently led Bafana Bafana to the COSAFA Cup and was also the assistant coach when the South African Under-17 side won the COSAFA Youth Championship in 2020.
“To be honest and talking from experience, if you have played football at the top level, you remain in the mind of many and it’s easy for them to take risks about such people without even a good track record,” Ramorebuli says.
“If you didn’t play topflight football, you must work twice as hard to prove yourself and it’s not easy to be trusted until you have proven yourself,” he adds.