Bear with us, plead local coaches Lloyd Chitembwe

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter

PREMIER Soccer League coaches have pleaded with football authorities to create an environment where coaches can speak their minds out without fear of being fined or victimised for airing their views.

Coaches have often fallen foul of the league’s rules and regulations mainly for complaining against biases and criticising match officials.

Under Order 13 of the Premier Soccer League Standing Orders and Fines, it is an offence for a player or coach to make comments in the media implying bias or questioning the integrity of match officials, thereby bringing the league or its sponsors into disrepute.

But the coaches emerged from their workshop organised by the PSL in Harare yesterday in high spirits after thrashing out the issues.

“I think these workshops are needed more often so that as coaches and PSL officials, we constantly share ideas. So this was refreshing and we discussed quite a bit of local football and I think we have gone a step ahead. We are heading in the right direction,” said FC Platinum’s Norman Mapeza.

The former Zimbabwe international, who along with Johannes Nhumwa were fined by the league for speaking out against the deteriorating standards of refereeing, said some of the statements were made in the heat of the moment and also argued that sometimes coaches needed to be heard as they raise pertinent issues that may contribute to the good health of the game.

“We were all happy with the discussions with the CEO of the PSL and I hope some of the things we discussed will be implemented this season.

“As coaches we need to say whatever we feel especially after matches. We don’t need to feel like we are going to be victimised.

“I think that’s what we agreed upon: if there is a need for us to talk we need to talk. Of course I know there will be fines and all but, at the end of the day, will this help us in terms of developing our football?

“So, why should we keep quiet when things are not okay? Maybe there is a better way to address it but at the end of the day we need to talk as coaches… It’s not like we are going to mourn for all the 34 games but when we are not happy, I think we just need to say it out.

“If there is no transparency, there is no professionalism. We have seen it happen in Europe; I was talking about the issue when Arsenal lost to Newcastle United, I think Mikel Arteta was fuming all over the place.

“Of course, the approach might not have been the correct one but at the end of the day we heard what he was complaining about.
“So there is no difference between us and those guys coaching in Europe. So if there is anything amiss, we need to talk and these guys need to listen and we move along,” said Mapeza.

Coaches the world over have tried to be honest in post-match interviews.

Unfortunately, when one expresses honesty about referees, they risk a heavy fine.

However, the criticism sometimes is out of line.

CAPS United’s Lloyd Chitembwe, who has been a victim of the rules at some point in his coaching career agreed.

“I am happy that it was an interactive meeting where coaches raised their issues and they also had their reservations obviously trying to protect the corporates that are obviously behind the PSL but at the end of the day I don’t think it’s proper for me as a coach to be  stifled.

“I want to express myself in the manner that I feel in that moment. I thought we really talked about it. There were a lot of things that have been going on in our game.

“Hopefully this time around it will not be the case. Issues obviously to do with mistakes; mistakes do happen with referees, coaches, players. No one is immune to mistakes.

“I think we shared quite a lot and I am happy with the response that I got personally from PSL that there is a need for me to express my emotion; to be very expressive. Sometimes it’s unfair for me to get to hide what it is really all about me in as far as emotions are concerned,” said Chitembwe.

Returning Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu said the PSL should have such kind of interactions with coaches regularly.

“I think this is a very good initiative that the PSL has come up with, to bring together all the coaches,” he said.

“There were some questions that we were being asked. They also wanted to hear the views of how the coaches respond to the media and also how we relate with the players and how we disseminate information to the players and the way they are supposed to respond to the media; how we work with the referees and also to appreciate our stakeholders who are the sponsors of the game,” said Kaindu.

Day Gutu of newly-promoted Chegutu Pirates said the workshop was beneficial.
“It was an eye-opener. We managed to interact with the new ZIFA TD and we told him our challenges,” said Gutu.

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