As we promised in this week’s edition of Soccer Laduma, we bring you former Bafana Bafana coach, Ted Dumitru’s views on Kaizer Chiefs, Stuart Baxter’s link to the technical director job at Safa in this Supporters Club mini interview.
With Stuart Baxter’s success at Kaizer Chiefs seemingly built on using more established senior players, would he be a good fit for SAFA as technical director? The FA are said to have earmarked the Englishman as their primary target. While it’s hard to disagree with the success he’s achieved, former Amakhosi league-winning coach, Ted Dumitru, is slightly more reserved in his praise when it comes to youth development.
David Minchella: Hi Ted. Let’s get straight to it. Is Baxter the right man for the job as technical director of football in South Africa?
Ted Dumitru:If you talk about youth development and the global approach, the indigenous knowledge is playing a huge role. It’s down to tradition, climate, attitude… you name it. It appears it’s nearly impossible for someone to make a success of this if they have a contrasting mentality.
DM: But Ted, Baxter won a double with Chiefs using local players in SA conditions. What’s the difference between achieving success in Mzansi at senior professional level, and working to develop very young players?
TD:Dave, if you go to Germany or Spain and you have the same situation… let’s say you have Pep Guardiola applying for a youth development role with the German FA. He will be rejected even though he has high level qualifications. This is because of the unique factors involved with young German players in that country.
DM: Baxter was once coach of the England U19s. Are you saying that he isn’t suited to developing players locally because he isn’t experienced working with SA youngsters?
TD:This is what the research is saying. A lot of us are sent back to the drawing board to review our policies. It appears it’s impossible to transcend the contrasting elements a foreigner will experience in another culture of football. If you start off on the wrong path, generation after generation of young footballers will be lost!
DM: Surely, Baxter would know how to work with say an U14 youngster, regardless of whether they’re English or from SA?
TD:There’s a huge list of contrasting elements! One is the size, height and the weight. The other very important one is the mentality. African children have a tendency to be more artistic in the game. They’re less clear in the logical elements of football. Then you have the question of technique. African children can develop upwards of 70 or 80 ball skills. In Europe they say you must play the long distance pass. In the African mentality, this is totally unacceptable, you know. It’s difficult to transcend your own culture in terms of development.
DM: Right. So, what would your answer be if we asked you, ‘Is Baxter the right man to be SAFA technical director?’
TD:Ha, ha! None of us (as foreigners)! I don’t want to individualize, but anyone coming from any part of the world wouldn’t be suited. It has to be a local guy in charge, someone who has gone through many stages of learning. We are suggesting now to have a local man supported by an advisory board. He has to be inclusive of tradition, altitude, climate, mentality, physical aspects and many other factors. It’s an immensely complex situation.
DM: Thanks, Ted.
TD:Sure. It’s a pleasure.
We hope you guys enjoyed Dumitru’s views and that you will let us know what you think.