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