Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
REFEREE Janny Sikazwe has been appointed Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) technical director, subject to him accepting to take up one of the loftiest jobs in local football.
Social media was abuzz with the appointment, made the other day, although majority sentiments from what I read were totally in disagreement with the appointment for various reasons.
Others feel joining FAZ would be downgrading his already illustrious career, which has taken him to the World Cup and other major platforms. Yet others are of the view that FAZ made the right decision.
My position on this debate starts with one or two questions: Who is the technical director of FIFA? It is Marco van Basten, who was hired by FIFA to raise the standards of coaching. Majority of football followers know that van Basten was one of the world’s best players.
Closer to home; who is the technical director of the Confederation of African Football? It is Abdel Moneim Mustafa Hussein, a former Sudanese player and coach.
Who remembers Fernando Hierro? He was Spain’s coach at the 2018 World Cup having served as technical director of that country’s association. One can research on persons who hold such positions and will surely find one common thread – they are former footballers or coaches.
The other question is: What is the role of a technical director? FIFA says the technical director, sometimes also called a director of technical development or a sports director, is the person in charge of defining and leading the national technical development programmes, therefore preparing the football of the future.
He proposes to the general secretary, the president and possibly the executive committee a long-term vision and develops a technical strategy over several years in order to improve the level of the game within the country and achieve identified targets on and off the pitch.
He and his department are likewise in charge of the implementation of all activities related to technical development, as well as the control, monitoring and assessment. In other words, he is for the technical side while the general secretary is for the management side. His roles are but not limited to:
• Organising courses for coaches and instructors
• Defining a coach licensing system (Pro, A, B, C, D) in line with the needs of the association and the parameters set forth by the confederation
• Making sure that clubs observe their obligation to use qualified/ certified coaches.
• Preparing the future of national football and working to improve the standard of play in national competitions (senior and youth)
• Reinforcing the competitiveness of youth national teams
• Helping to identify, train and protect talented young players
• Assisting with setting up training camps for the various youth national teams
• Provides input for club competition rules (foreign players, young players, format of the competition, number of teams, etc.)
The bullet points above are among the roles and duties of a technical director.
I know FAZ has a prerogative to appoint people it wants but it would be wise to get the right personnel for the right jobs. There is no doubt that Sikazwe is qualified as a referee and teacher and he would deliver if given such roles at Football House.
FIFA, itself, has appointed a former football star whose technical understanding of the game is not questionable. All other associations I know of have former footballers and coaches. Otherwise, if it was a job for a referee – and Sikazwe is good – FIFA would have appointed Pierluigi Colina or indeed Mark Clattenburg and Howard Webb. But Colina is at FIFA in a refereeing management role while Clattenburg is in Saudi Arabia not as technical director but referees’ manager.
But FAZ has the right to employ any person it feels like and, who knows, maybe refereeing is Zambia’s biggest challenge to success – no-one gives us a favour in major qualifiers!
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Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI