Analysis: MATHEWS KABAMBA
LATELY, the Zambian football family has been divided in opinion over the appointment of celebrated FIFA referee Janny Sikazwe as the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) technical director.
“The FAZ executive members have appointed FIFA referee, Mr Janny Sikazwe, as FAZ Technical Director subject to secondment by his employers,” a FAZ statement read.
Janny is yet to officially accept the appointment.
2018 seems to be Janny’s year. A teacher by profession, he has moved from officiating at the World Cup in Russia to being appointed to one of the biggest offices in football.
FAZ’s decision to appoint Janny as head of a department mandated to generally develop the beautiful game from the grassroots to the top has taken many followers aback.
In Zambia, like most African countries, the office of the technical director is a relatively new feature. Given the pedigree and qualifications of the previous two holders of the office, Janny’s appointment seems odd.
Football icon Kalusha Bwalya was Zambia’s first-ever technical director before he was replaced by Honour Janza – a respected coach and instructor with a big reputation on the continent.
When Janza left the role last year to take up a job with Super Division side Red Arrows, the office was vacant before FAZ appointed former international defender Moses Sichone in an acting capacity.
While coaches and players get the praises when a country records positive results on the pitch, it is the technical directors that do the dirty work in mapping a country’s football future.
Like two-time Africa Cup of Nations coach Herve Renard once remarked: “The battle is won many miles away from the pitch.” It takes decades of planning and work.
Germany, for example, after a disastrous campaign in the Euro 2000, had to shake the foundations of their football structures and they reaped the dividends a decade later.
The technical department mapped a strategy that saw them win the World Cup in 2014.
In a nutshell, the job of the technical director, be it at club or national team level, is to carry out long-term player development. The bigger chunk of his work is future results.
To a larger extent, Zambia’s dream for a maiden World Cup appearance hangs on the programme and strategies designed by the office of the technical director, thus the need to have a shrewd TD cannot be overemphasised.
Janny has been involved in the game for over a decade now. His experience as a referee can come in handy in improving the standard of officiating in the country.
Deploying him to the office of the technical director is somewhat misplaced considering he has no coaching background whatsoever. It is too much to ask of him.
World football governing body FIFA places great importance to the office of the technical director such that it is a requirement for all member associations to have a functional technical department.
“With the introduction of FIFA’s new development programme, FORWARD, the position of the member association technical director has become even more important for the analysis, planning, implementation and monitoring of various projects,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.
According to Infantino, technical development is paramount in building the football of the future, and as such it is one of the most important areas in any football association.
“The technical director plays a key role in this by defining and leading the country’s national technical development programme. He is for the technical side, what the general secretary is for the management side.
“The main activities and responsibilities focus on increasing the number of players, youth and women’s football, coach education, as well as research and documentation,” Infantino says.
Given its roles and responsibility, the office of the technical director is arguably the most sophisticated positions in football and its holder must be equal to the task.
According to the FIFA handbook for technical directors, the holder of this office is in charge of defining and leading the national technical development programmes. He therefore prepares the football of the future.
The handbook highlights, coaching education, promotion of women and youth football and documentation and research as one of the major roles of a technical director.
Given the nature of the job, it has the ability to go unnoticed in the short-term but can have either positive or negatives results over a long-term period, thus it important to have the right man for the job.
“One of the important roles of a technical director at FAZ is to manage and oversee all player and coaching development within the country. The office of TD acts as a “centre of competence”.
“The holder should have a remit for coaching programmes and philosophy of coaching the coaches. Only time will tell if the FAZ executive have made a right call or not,” former FAZ vice-president Boniface Mwamelo says.
Has FAZ made the right call on Janny? Indeed, only time will tell – it never lies.
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail sports reporter.
Analysis: MATHEWS KABAMBA