Football, like other team sports, is a game of many actors where success depends on how well different stakeholders play their respective but interwoven roles. What is however disturbing is the disparity with which actors are perceived and treated.
In a country like Cameroon where football is like a religion with nearly the entire sporting public passing for players, referees and even trainers at the same time, some of the field actors who would have been pivotal in the game are sometimes treated with disdain. Come to think of it, when a team excels, the general feeling is that the players did well and each time it falters, the trainers almost always carry the blame. “He doesn’t know anything,” “his line-up wasn’t good” or “his choice of players is bad,” are some of the blames heaped on coaches each time their teams fail to shine. How professionals who painstakingly revise their notes and strive for perfections; with shortcomings of course, to make a team competitive are increasingly being indicted or neglected is a one million dollar question begging for answers.
The Coronavirus outbreak which halted sports activities in the country like elsewhere, forcing the trainers and their trainees to struggle for survival has just come to compound a sorry situation for local coaches. Some of them even when the competition was at its peak weren’t either sure of their take-home or had take-homes that couldn’t even take them half way home.
Someone somewhere would argue that the coaches have been battling for survival alongside their players. Granted that the sufferings have been same and efforts to make ends meet peculiar to each actor, there is however a school of thought which holds that coaches have not had deserved concern from football authorities in the country. The fact that local coaches were never programmed to benefit from the over FCFA 800 million FIFA support fund for the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the football milieu last July 2020 leaves some with many questions than answers. Was it deliberate or simply forgotten? Is their importance not perceived by all the same way? Local trainers logically deserve better handling for, a team, we all know, means a coalition of many actors with different but complementary roles.
The near shabby treatment of local coaches at the time of Covid-19 comes after complaints from the technical bench of the 1990 history-making Indomitable Lions that they were not considered in the distribution of the Head of State’s promised houses to players.
Even as football stakeholders may feel guilty in the little-importance given to local coaches and hopefully work for change, the concerned absolutely need to migrate from their visible disarray. Unity, they say, is strength but our local coaches don’t seem to embrace that. They are seen to be functioning as individuals instead of creating an association through which their plight could be better advocated. Unlike club presidents who have a union in which they federate their ideas for better football management; visible challenges notwithstanding, trainers function as individuals. As a result, each time there is a crisis like Covid-19, the price on all of them is almost unbearable.
Football has proven to be a veritable unifier in Cameroon. For the game to continually bring diverse peoples together to focus on what unites and not divides them and the country, there is need for better handling of all the actors. At least, trainers should be given consideration in all bailout plans so that they don’t throw professionalism to the dogs or sink with the king sport.
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