Saturday, June 26, 2010

The African Coaching Problem

Here's Bill Rhoden's story in today's New York Times about what went wrong for Africa at this year's World Cup (where only Ghana advanced to the second round). So much has been made of the hiring of white coaches as one cause of Africa's footballing problem. While I agree that African football can only develop if indigenous coaching develops alongside it, I don't buy the argument that European coaches can't succeed because they don't understand the tribal mindsets that permeate multiethnic African teams. It is precisely because a European coach is not part of a particular ethnic group that a country like Nigeria hired a Swede, Lars Lagerb├Ąck, as coach. He is seen as above the favoritism and nepotism that has influenced the selection of players for so long in Nigeria. The real problem is African coaches are not given the training or the resources to do the job properly in Africa, and they are left to work with a shrinking talent pool as the best African players continue to move abroad. The top players who are found in the African national teams are also all used to playing under white coaches in Europe.

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