What's Next For ZIFA And The State of the National Football Team Going Forward?

 By Tawanda Chari

It was a disappointing AFCON tournament for the Zimbabwe Warriors. Worse still, the national football team in general has been disappointing across all fronts for some time now. Coaches/managers have been hired and fired. Technical teams changed and reshuffled to not much success.

Some media persons then create an array of misconstrued, misdirected, and decontextualized  speculation-based drivel that serves no purpose and heightens ignorance about head coaches when the team fails. A graveyard for truth.

There are of course good talking points but they appear minuscule in comparison at the moment.

What's The Significance Of Managers Then?

The bottom-line is this: if you assemble a squad of players with talent and the right attitude

and character, you’ll win more football matches than you lose. Coaches rarely have time to do the grunt work of picking up the right players and profiles of those players. It's exhausting. So,  instead of trying to find the ideal Coach,  why not build a competent team premised on the above-mentioned criteria?

Football Associations have historically tended to hire incompetent staff. The individual football manager has probably become even less important in recent years. Managers at successful Associations now tend to work with dozens of staffers, ranging from physical trainers,  defensive/offensive coaches, to data analysts and sports psychologists.

In modern football it makes more sense to talk of management teams rather than individual managers. It’s doubtful anyway whether ZIFA choose a manager chiefly because they think he will maximize performance. Often the manager is chosen more for his suitability as a symbolic figurehead than for his perceived competence.

That’s because the national team exists only partly to win matches. Its other job is to incarnate country’s eternal spirit. So a national team has to be the nation-made flesh. A manager/head coach is hired to incarnate the nation more than to win matches. Fans care way too much about where a coach comes from and not specifically what he is and can grow into.

When it comes to knowledge, the world divides into liberals and conservatives. Conservatives tend to believe that some things are better left unknown. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to believe that even if we don’t know how something works, patient analysis will eventually reduce the problem to a manageable set of proven relationships. Most fans and media seem unaware of all the analysis that goes into preparing games. What the public sees isn’t necessarily what’s happening. So ZIFA gets cut some slack and they gamble on the next manager, then repeat the process.

The solution is simple and largely inexpensive. ZIFA should hire a team behind the actual football teams that do all the grunt work to assemble a high functioning squad that can incarnate Zimbabwe.

Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, in that transference, is the oneness that the mystics talk about. But you can only be at your best when you do the better work behind the scenes.






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