Katz’s SA blueprint for success in India
WHILE South African football continues to grapple with challenges of transforming its coaching curriculum, a former SA Football Association (Safa) coaches instructor is implementing a locally developed programme in India.
Karnagaran “Katz” Naidoo of Pietermaritzburg recently completed researching and writing the coaching manual for the development unit of professional Indian club Dempo SC. The cornerstone of his manual is based on the Maximal Training philosophy, a brain-centred coaching concept that was pioneered in South Africa by late Romanian coach Ted Dumitru.
Naidoo, 67, who considered the former Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana coach as his mentor, has been working in the subcontinent since 2013.
Currently he is the Head of Development at Dempo, overseeing the establishment of a multi-million rand residential academy in the tourist state of Goa.
The process of setting up the academy required a coaching curriculum, which took Naidoo approximately 10 months of planning the content with illustrations, having it laid out in a 301-page book format, and finally getting it printed. The manual is for the exclusive use of Dempo SC.
“Initially I planned to do a basic curriculum for the four age groups to satisfy the AIFF (All India Football Federation) and AFC (Asian Football Confederation) club accrediting system. However, when I looked at the research material I realised a comprehensive curriculum is the way I should go for the Dempo technical staff and a basic copy for the Club Accreditation.
“It covers the ‘Performance Factors’ in detail and is applied within the game method of training (Maximal Training). It is based on the Long Term Player Development, Learning to Train, Training to Train, Training to Compete and Training to Win. Hence the curriculum targets the age groups within the club structure - grassroots, under-14, under-16 and under-18s. It is specific to youth football,” said Naidoo, who previously oversaw the development academy of PSL club Maritzburg United.
Like his guru Dumitru, who died aged 76 last year after working for over three decades in southern African football, Naidoo first studied the game in Goa before working on his manual. His international career began in 2013 at the Goa Football Development Council, whose officials visited South Africa and requested Safa’s assistance to draw up their own development blueprint. Safa recommended Naidoo, and after a year in Goa, professional club side Dempo took note of Katz’s work and recruited him to launch their residential academy.
“In planning the curriculum I took into consideration the culture and characteristics of the players who I had been researching from the moment I arrived in India in 2013.
“I noted most of the players in the senior youth level have potential but the technical and tactical defects are evident mainly due to missing the phases of development.
“This was mainly due to the coaches’ mentality of sacrificing quality performance for winning at all cost and treating youth players like professionals. As Ted would say, ‘if there is no technique there can be no tactics’.
“They also have the universal problem of egos which hampers freedom for the youngsters to enjoy playing. I think one will agree that children don’t play to win, they play to be part of the game.”
Despite the lengthy process of coming up with art work to illustrate the training drills, proofing the copy and dealing with a printing company, Naidoo was glad that the manual presented him an opportunity to express his gratitude to Dumitru in the foreword. He also mentioned former Safa technical director, German Horst Kriete, for instilling a strong work ethic in his coaching approach.
With the coaching curriculum manual presented to club chairman, Goan business conglomerate Shrinivas Dempo, the former Chatsworth resident is back to the daily grind of managing his technical staff of eight coaches, two managers, two physiotherapists and four kit men at the academy, which recently took in its first batch of under-14 players.
By December Naidoo expects the academy’s administration block and grass pitch to be officially opened. Thereafter he will focus on setting up an astro pitch and a hostel block, after which the commercialising of the programme will take effect.
For someone who spent the bulk of his career coaching the current generation of South African coaches, Naidoo is lapping up this experience in a foreign land in the twilight of his career.
“Setting up the academy in a foreign country has been a huge challenge that needed me to dig deep, but the years in the industry, my stint as an instructor, Development Director at Maritzburg United, and teachings of my late guru Ted Dumitru and help from colleagues Thabo Dladla, Zipho Dlangla and the late Urban de Kock, has made it possible for me take on this challenge,” he said.
While in India the veteran coach will get to enjoy the Fifa Under-17 World Cup, the first football World Cup hosted by the country, which kicks off next month. South Africa failed to qualify for the event.
South African coach Karnagaran “Katz” Naidoo, left, presents the football coaching manual he compiled to Shrinivas Dempo, chairman of Indian club Dempo SC