It is well documented that many local African coaches do not have experience in top level coaching environments outside of the continent.
Former Algeria coach Rabah Saadane,who took Algeria to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, is a perfect example. Saadane has a world of experience in African football. However, armed with almost exclusively continental experience, Saadane’s major challenge was adapting to the multitude of global styles represented in the 32-team World Cup field.
But as people focus on the lack of experience in the local, African coaching ranks, it is important to highlight that there are also countless foreign coaches who have accepted lucrative pay packages to lead developing nations who seldom bring a level of success commensurate with their pay.
One of the arguments for hiring foreign coaches is that many of them are seen as having superior technical and man management experience, having spent time with top sides often in Europe and South America. Conceivably these coaches are better suited to prepare developing nations for international tournaments than local coaches with minimal experience outside of their respective regions.
Does not always work out
But the introduction of top level management into a developing environment is not necessarily a recipe for success. This concept extends beyond football.
In international development, historically projects have failed where project leaders have not properly studied and understood the cultural landscape that they are looking to develop. For instance, I may bring a plow into a farming community to help maximize productivity. More food helps the community. Simple, right? Not necessarily.
Now imagine that in that community, the farming was done by women. The time women spend farming might be the only time they can spend substantial amounts of time together. Introducing heavy machinery into the community might very well take farming out of the domain of women and into the exclusive domain of men. So although the community might be producing more food, the social dynamics of the community could change drastically. This might not mean that introducing heavy machinery to increase productivity is not a good idea. But it does mean that not fully understanding the implications of one’s actions can lead to just as much chaos as good.
Dynamics are different
So how does this apply to football? It’s simple. Introducing top level foreign managers who swoop in for a check, but fail to actually understand the dynamics of a country, are just as likely to underperform as a local coach who might not have top level experience, but understands the local environment.
Of course, proper support from federations is just as important to footballing success as coaching. But when assessing decisions to hire coaches, it is clear that simply hiring a top level coach and expecting success is not a recipe for success.
What do you think?