Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tactical Discipline-The Missing Piece of the African Women's Game

It is no secret that soccer players on the continent of Africa are endowed with so much talent. I recall watching a group of  boys playing a pick up game on the beach one morning, as i stood sipping  my cup of coffee whiles  enjoying the breath taking view through the window of my hotel room on one of my visits to Durban,South Africa. With some time to spare,before a scheduled business meeting,I hurried down to the beach for a chance of playing with my new friends. 

Their  mesmerizing moves and skills left me breathless, and to find out later, that these boys had never been given any lessons in soccer neither have they had any training by a coach, added to my bewilderment. This got me pondering about what could have been, had these boys been put through coaching camps and clinics like we have in the United States and elsewhere.With my addiction to women's soccer hitting fever pitch,I traveled to Sinaba to see Nigeria engage Equatorial Guinea in the final game of the 2010 African Women's Championship and then again, I was not disappointed. Both countries gave a good account of themselves by show casing their respective brand of soccer which eventually got them to be the  representatives of the continent at the up coming world cup in Germany but there was something missing;the final piece of the puzzle-tactical discipline.

A vast majority of female players in their formative years as soccer players, fall within the category of players who started out without any kind of formal training in the game of soccer. The fortunate ones in this case, are those who were coached by ex-players who themselves had no training at all and so rely on their experience in coaching. The very fortunate ones are those who are privileged to be called up for national duty and so get to have certified coaches to guide them.It comes as a  relief to see the progress women's soccer has made in the coaching department with FIFA spear heading the organization of coaching clinics for women in member countries.There is no doubting the fact that Africa abounds with talent however,we tend to rely more on individual brilliance than on tactical and technical astuteness. This problem comes to bear when one considers the persistent  failure of African women's teams  to advance at the world cup at the senior level. 
South Africa's Noko Matlou

It is indeed disheartening to think that players like Mercy Akide,Florence Omagbemi,Vivian Mensah,Adjoa Bayor,Portia Modise and Noko Matlou amongst other great ones, have not been able to propel their respective countries to dizzy heights on the world stage. This buttresses the fact that individual brilliance alone can not be the impetus to the success of teams. It's time for coaches and managers to step up to the plate by devising workable tactical plans,correcting technical mistakes and teaching the rudiments of the game to their players,we need well rounded players who can deliver when it matters most.Certified coaches must endeavor to volunteer their time in assisting clubs  with their knowledge and the FA's must make incentives ready for such volunteers.

I implore  coaches to not rest on their oars but to better themselves by keeping abreast with  dynamic training methods and as such partake in refresher courses in order to sharpen their skills. African women soccer players have natural talent and to ensure success, coaches must see the urgency in sharpening their tactical skills whiles instilling  tactical discipline and mental toughness in their players-qualities in short supply at the moment. Tactical discipline is the missing piece now let's see a change in our women's game.


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