AUGUST 13 — The firing of coaches has been an issue for Malaysian football. Being coaches for “elite teams” doesn’t make the coaches look outstanding among other team coaches. Even big names in our local football history are not spared.
Alex Ferguson was appointed manager at Old Trafford on November 6, 1986, and his first trophy for Man U is in the FA Cup final 1989-1990 season against Crystal Palace while first league title as coach manager in England came in 1992-1993 season. It took him three years for silverware and two more years for celebration in the major league. That’s an opener for one of the most celebrated sportsman in football history.
The sacking, the resting or forced resignation of Malaysian football coaches and many more sport coaches due to the poor performance of the players and the team sure is making headlines. Some said it’s fair and some said it’s not right to do so. Some question whether the coaches are “victims” of sports management body when the “performance index” is not met.
Are we now forgetting or are we so eager to be the winner in everything we do? Are we putting so much importance on winning in sports that it blatantly neglects the needs and wellbeing of the athletes?
As a coach, just how important is winning to you? When your team or athletes win, does that mean that you are doing your job better? Does it make you a more effective coach?
Similarly, when your athletes fail, does that mean you are failing? Are your athletes’ and team’s losses concrete evidence of your incompetence?
None of us knows what’s the contract between the coaches and the sports bodies are? The trend now seems to make the “coaches” the scapegoats. How many of the players or athletes are real winners or which of sports team are really worthy champions although and knowing that not many are “classic” players? We should be realistic in putting up the target.
In the first place, sports and games are meant to make us fit and healthy until sports have become commercialised. And ever since the sports and games had been “professionalised” success had been the talk of everyone.
Of course you know that the sport is supposed to be “all about the games.” You also know that coaching is all about being a good role model, enhancing self-esteem and building character.
Furthermore, coaches’ number one priority is the welfare and happiness of the players you coach. A coach doesn’t have to be a scientist to know all this stuff.
Because winning has become so important to us as a culture, because being “number one” has been erroneously equated with coaching success and competence, some of our sport, club, high school and college coaches have forgotten what their real mission as a professional is.
These coaches have come to mistakenly believe that the won-loss outcome of their season is far more important than the process of participation, character development and safety of their athletes.
They believe that an athlete’s performance failure is reflective of a coaching failure. And why shouldn’t they feel this way when coaches at every level are regularly criticised and fired for not winning enough?
Yet Brian Clough, one of the EPL’s greatest ever managers, “the greatest manager England never had”, saw it differently: “Players lose you games, not tactics. There’s so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes”.
He also believed the buck didn’t necessarily end with the coach. “If a chairman sacks the manager he initially appointed, he should go as well.”
When it comes right down to it though, isn’t the true essence of “good coaching”, winning? Isn’t that what coach Vince Lombardi used to say: Winning isn’t the most important thing. It’s the only thing?
* Azizi Ahmad is an educator and a sport science trainer.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.