In this week’s SportPesa Clubhouse column ambassador, Doctor Khumalo spoke on the player-coach relationship and how vital it is for there to be a good understanding between all parties for the benefit of the club.
The Kaizer Chiefs legend discussed the advice that he received from Bafana Bafana head coach, Stuart Baxter when the two worked together at Amakhosi about being a good leader.
“That means even players who are not in the team feel part of the team. That speaks to great leadership but the same thing can’t be said about some teams. Coach Stuart Baxter once said to me, “There are no shortcuts in football. Whatever you do, as a coach, make sure you do it 100%. Do not leave loopholes, even if something is not in your favour within the team structure, as long as it benefits the team do it. That’s how you cover your tracks.” That man, at the risk of singling him out, taught me a lot and he also said that statement isn’t just about the coach, it works both ways and should be reciprocated by everyone in the team. On paper, I was his assistant coach but within his team and working environment, there was no assistant coach. Whoever he is working with is a coach because he always wanted everyone to contribute and understand how we do things.
“I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes but I’m merely expressing my views. I was a football supporter before I was a player and then a coach. So I know what I’m talking about and that’s why I can be able to tell that something is not right even from a distance. It is very important that we highlight these things because our coaching courses prepare us for these eventualities. There are areas of focus for coaching success and I will briefly tell you about them because they help a great deal. 1. Philosophy and leadership: That is finding and solving problems, ideas, values and culture. That’s when players need to understand your philosophy and how you want things done. You don’t want players talking bad about you after you’ve left their team simply because they didn’t understand your philosophy. You also need to show great leadership qualities and understand that all players are important, not just the 18 that you take to camp.
“You don’t want to lose your relationship with your players. 2. Organisation and management: You’ve got to be able to get the best out of the resources at your disposal. 3. Individual participation development. 4. Developing your players’ skills and attitude within your system. At some stage, you might be doing well only for things to change and that’s when your management skills are put into test. 5. Assign roles to each player within the team, work to keep them in those roles and redefine roles as players change. I have learned that most teams, all over the world, use what we call a multi-functional player. That’s someone who can play more than one positions. Like everything else, that has its own advantages and disadvantages. 6. Coaching staff development. As a head coach, you’re surrounded by a technical team that is not ball-players. You’re as good as the people around you and you can’t be the one giving all the time, someone else has to help. 7. Promotion and public relations. You have to promote youngsters and that’s why you have youth development structures and players have to be taught how to handle media interviews as well. It is a pity that space is becoming a problem otherwise I would elaborate more on these tools that make a successful coach.”
To read the full SportPesa Clubhouse column, check out this week’s edition of Soccer Laduma, issue 1113.