Friday, April 19, 2013

Captain of The Ship

As I was looking for ideas to come up with a relevant blogpost, I came up across this article at ESPN Soccernet,

England enamoured with manager role

The article discussed on how English football transformed the role of the manager and created the persona of an all-powerful manager who pervades every inch of the club he manages.

And I knew I could not find another more apt topic to discuss this week. Simply because of the glaring contrast in the situation of our local Amateur football.

The differences between the EPL managers and our local Amateur football managers are as distinct as night and day. The former are paid top dollars on lucrative contracts to ply their trade, whilst the latter often have to bear an enormous personal cost to pursue a passion. EPL managers guide top-notch professionals who themselves earn top bucks and as a result can demand professionalism from their charges. For our local Amateur managers, getting some of their charges to spell the word professionalism itself can sometimes be a tall order. For EPL managers, the glitz and the glamour of their jobs can sometimes be one of the main driving factors to take up such a tough and demanding job. In the case of our local Amateur managers, there is nothing glamourous about doing the dirty work of spending your entire week trying to frantically call up enough players to have a friendly kickabout.

So the question, is what is the thread that ties them both together. The answer can be summed up in 2 words, Passion and Leadership. Not every passionate individual can be an effective leader and not every Leader is necessarily passionate. However, when Passion meets Leadership in the arena of football, you are destined to meet an exceptional manager.

Our local Amateur managers are often blinded by what they read in the media and what they see on their Saturday night Big match. A hairdryer during half-time or a touchline outburst might work for Ferguson. Substitutions made out of gut-feelings might work for Mourinho. But, if you think that taking a similar approach can earn you power and respect amongst your charges, then, waking up to reality could be a hard fall to take.

In terms of winning respect amongst his players, Jayaseelan, the Manager of Kamikaze has surely done the right moves. His simple approach of being transparent with his players as well being sincere in his task has allowed him to make many radical changes with minimum fuss. He also maintains constant interaction with a core group of senior players, who then aid him to disseminate information and rationale, that help with the understanding amongst those on the playing level. And most importantly, he accepts responsibility when the buck has to stop with him. Humility is an omnipotent trait to have if you are an Amateur manager having to deal with several young egos and attitudes.

The life of an Amateur manager is by no means an easy one. One has to make numerous calls and messages, just to arrange one match. One also has to deal with blood-pressure raising, last-minute cancellations by talented yet irresponsible players, whom you can neither punish nor ignore. And the rewards aren't many. When a team wins in Amateur football, credit is rarely given to the manager, it is usually seen as a testimony to the strength of a team. But when a team loses, fingers are ever too quick to point at the manager who must have surely played the wrong tactics or made the wrong substitutions.

For the level of Amateur football to improve, you need more talented Managers to step forth and lead their teams. Managing a team is not merely selecting the right formation,  that would be Football Manager. Managing a team is something more intrisic. It is about charting the course of the team in a long and unrelenting journey and selecting the right crewmen to bring the ship across. It is about constantly reinventing your approaches for the sole purpose of benefitting the team. Anyone can criticise a manager, but not everyone can become one. If you have a good man running your team, now would be the best time to go and give him a shoutout!


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