LAST week, some of the Mainland Premier League coaches said the current semi-lockdown on schools and sports competitions which is aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly coronavirus was set to affect, drastically, the form of many football players.
Of course, you don’t need to be a premier league football player to understand that. But that is one of the main reasons why English Premier League clubs did not allow their non-British players to leave for their respective home countries.
Foreign professional players have remained in Britain because it would be easier for their managers and coaches to organise training programmes, on individual basis, for them and from the comfort of their respective homes.
Our local premier league coaches said it was going to be extremely difficult for the locally based players to train, individually, from their respective homes.
The coaches’ argument was that if it was always very difficult for them to get the players together for serious training before the onset of coronavirus, it would be extremely difficult to organise the players to train, individually, from their respective homes.
The open admission by the local premier league coaches their inability to handle their own local players, when it comes to train, individually, from their respective homes just goes to show the deep-seated nature of our soccer problem in the country. And that is where our problem in football lies.
Until and unless we solve this problem which revolves around attitudes, we will never get anywhere in this beautiful game. If our players have problems even when it comes to training together, it is then not surprising to hear that it is almost impossible for them to train individually from their respective homes.
Such players may perhaps need a psychologist. For if a player whose livelihood heavily depends on soccer, but does not see the link between training and his own livelihood, then such a player has a very big problem. A week or so ago, I wrote in these columns a story based on a story built out of an interview of the ‘Daily News’ sports reporters had with Taifa Stars player, Simon Msuva.
Who is presently playing for a Moroccan club, told the reporter what had led him into getting where he is today, were two things; Discipline and determination.
To date, we have many Tanzanian soccer players playing outside the country in Egypt, South Africa, Spain, Britain and Zambia. But the most successful Tanzanian professional soccer players are two, Mbwana Samatta and of course, Simon Msuva. Both players have one thing in common, discipline and determination.
And that is why they are where they are today, playing in some of the most competitive soccer nations in the world. It is not only in football that discipline and determination is important, but literally in every endeavour. One cannot succeed in anything if he or she lacks discipline and determination.
Therefore when our local league coaches said their players had problems even when they were supposed to train together, the reason was that their players lacked discipline and determination. And because the soccer players lacked discipline and determination, they failed to do well in the league before it was suspended.
And it is for the same reasons that they have also failed, repeatedly, to do well in continental soccer clubs tournaments, hence their repeated eliminations in such soccer tournaments.
What was perhaps very disheartening about the coaches’ statement was that they did not seem to have any answers for the problem apart from saying that if the semi-lockdown continued, the league would be very much affected.
The question that we now need to ask these local coaches is; If that is the picture of our local players, what do they think can now be done to solve the problem?
The foregoing question is critical because, one, the premier league is very important, as far as the development and growth of soccer in the country is concerned, and two, clubs managements and the people, in the form of fans, pay in, in order to see these players in action.
Now do we fold our hands and leave things as they are? The coaches need to sit down together and find out what could be done to ensure that our players are fully engaged, individually and at their respective homes, in training.
One of the options clubs managements could explore is: If the players are paid salaries, they can explain to them that when we are through with the corona virus, a player who fails to put up his potential form’s performance, would have his salary reviewed downwards.
Of course, there are those who will say; “You cannot tamper with one’s salary.” It’s fine, but the on-going semi-lockdown should perhaps now provide our clubs with the opportunity to rethink the contracts they have been making with their players.
They need to start working on contracts which would also bind their players to be more responsible when it comes to matters that relate to a player’s lack of discipline and determination both in training and during competitive matches