Jovial scenes were rule at the Dar Young Africans clubhouse along Jangwani Street and well beyond, upon the recent arrival of new head coach Tom Saintfiet, a Belgian tactician with plenty of experience in African teams.
His curriculum vitae shows he has been a director of technique in the Nigerian national team, which means something like trainer or assistant coach, placing him in a good position to develop some systematic ideas about African teams at club or national team level. That in itself doesn’t amount to soccer tactics, but it helps to build a psychological framework for working with the team as a whole.
Having the relevant psychological exposure is helpful in the sense that it gives the coach a formula as to how to handle players, instead of learning on the job.
That sort of intuition as to what players one meets and the sort of environmental or cultural pressures they are exposed to is important, not because it resolves problems and the coach has no problem with anyone thereafter, but rather provides him with an ‘answer book,’ that when a specific question comes up, he knows what it is and what he should do. That sort of intuition is a kind of classification, that any problem has its source, and thus its ‘medication.’
As is usually the problem with models, they are always helpful when one has such a model to guide his action, but putting a model to use is a sort of experimentation, where at the end of the day it may lead to one failing if the differences become acute, that is divergences of behavior from model.
If that kind of situation comes about and the coach has to abandon the team –one can say like Kostadin Papic or other foreign coaches before –it leads to an improvement of the model if the coach believes he also erred somewhere, and if he doesn’t think so, it guides him to be more selective of what team to take up in a coaching assignment. That could mean another African country, or abandoning foreign coaching, etc.
Among foreign coaches who have worked here in the past five years or so, it appears that only Marcio Maximo has had an experience adapted to the model he came with from Brazil, such that he did not get frustrated either as Taifa Stars coach or in his contract completion and return.
Not every foreign coach would wish to continue handling local players – even in comparison with other African countries there might still be some keen differences – nor for that matter club leaderships, or TFF. Marcio Maximo was able to avoid being frustrated at any of those levels, which may not be quite be the case with others.
Having a new coach means he gives himself time to learn something about the local environment and is ready to work with virtually everyone.
The question that is still posed at Young Africans SC is what sort of leadership it needs or it will get, for a club like any other entity, can only get the leaders it deserves and not any other, and no leadership style or program for the club can be said to exist or has adherence of most of those who matter at the club. That is what must be solved, not getting an experienced coach.