Fo­cus on national side s’ coaches as ‘int er­na­tional sea­son’ be­gins

The Witness - - SPORT -

FOOT­BALL leagues are closed here and abroad af­ter an­other 10 months of non­stop ac­tion; Su­per Rugby is in re­cess fol­low­ing heav­ily con­trast­ing for­tunes for South African fran­chises; and do­mes­tic cricket teams still have more months to their new cam­paigns.

This means it’s time for some of our highly paid national team coaches to as­sume the spot­light, f ace c om­pet­i­tive fires and earn their mone y.

An in­trigu­ing serie s of int er­na­tional matches c om­ing up might c on­vince sports f ans acr oss our beau­ti­ful, but trou­bled, land whether Rus­sell Domingo should be urged to reap­ply for his Proteas job, whether Al­lis­ter Coetzee should be sent back to pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tion along with some of his Spring­bok s, or whether Stu­art B ax­ter’s sec ond spell with Bafana Bafana is likely to be bet­ter than his fir st.

These im­por­tant, but pres­sured men may be f ac­ing fa­mil­iar foes in c om­ing weeks, but the ansf will be very in­ter­ested to see ho w their g ame­plans c ome to­gether on mat ch days. Ex­cuses will be heav­ily dis­counted.

Some cricket lo vers may ha ve been stumped when Domingo was in­formed in re­cent months that his coach­ing con­tract was not go­ing to be au­to­mat­i­cally re­newed, but the mild­man­ner ed 4 2yearold from PE sees this clos­ing stage of his ten­ure fea­ture a ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion in the form of the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy. The ODI se­ries loss to Eng­land over the past week was just a warmup af­fair, and Domingo will write his name in the his­tory books if he can lead AB de Vil­liers, Hashim Amla and gang to a rare tro­phy haul in Eng­land.

But should the P roteas chok e onc e again in a favourablelook­ing knock­out set­ting, then per haps w e should send them to a su­per­long boot camp, some­thing close to the con­tro­ver­sial “Kamp Staal­draad” en­dured by the Boks a decade ago, to toughen up ment ally.

Cur­rent B ok c oach C oet­zee is also now very busy af­ter months of “down time”, with his di­ary filled with a French Test se­ries at home and then the an­nual Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

Coetzee’s first year with the Boks was a sport­ing catas­tro­phe and if “Chap­ter 2” is any­where like the start of the open­ing of his Spring­bok book last year, the rugby authorities are bound to face pres­sure from the coun­try’s pas­sion­ate rugby com­mu­nity to act.

Gra­ham­stown­born Coetzee al­ready looks a tad older than his 54 years of age be­cause of stress, and his chal­lenge ap­pears sim­i­lar to that of 63yearold Bafana coach Bax­ter (whose men go to Nige­ria soon) in that a crit­i­cal num­ber of py­laers who are feted by the fans and me­dia alike for their hero­ics in club or pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tions don’t make the grade at in­ter­na­tional level.

There may be var­i­ous rea­sons for this un­wanted sit­u­a­tion, not least a need for bet­ter y outh de vel­op­ment and mor e spe­cial­ist y outh c oaches, but C oet­zee and Bax­ter are of­fi­cially not al­lowed to blame their t ools and, f or job se­cu­rit y, have to use all their t ac­ti­cal nous and charm to cover team gaps while as­sist­ing their r es­pec­tive em­ploy­ers with skillsen­hance­ment pro­grammes that w ould build stronger national teams in fu­ture.

En­joy the “in­ter­na­tional sea­son” over our win­ter!

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