Coach Francis Tamba, president of the Liberian Coaches Association and CAF Education Officer, says Liberia’s soccer problem is not players’ lack of physical endurance but rather players’ failure to understand the game.
In an interview with the Daily Observer yesterday at the headquarters of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) on Benson Street in Monrovia, he said Liberian players have the habit of failing to understand how the game is handled at critical periods.
“Our players have physique and endurance,” Tamba said, “but the why, how and what of the game is lacking.” With references to past matches involving Barrack Young Controllers (BYC), he said after playing for the first 45 minutes with impressive results, the next 45 minutes become a problem as they fail in most cases to score more goals.
He noted that while the problem of players’ ineffective performance in the second half can be blamed on players and coaches, “it is important to note that after a coach has taught players every aspect of the game, it is left with the players to do what is expected and when it is expected and how it is expected in a particular game.”
He admitted that coaches and players should share the blame because what the players demonstrate on the field of play is from what coaches have taught them to do. “Coaches are responsible for players’ optimized performance,” he added.
“In BYC’s past failures at home, there were periods that it was clear to see a goal coming against them…though the coach did not recognize it.
“Coaches fail to see when goals are being worked out against their teams because of inadequate preparation. Among the twelve first division teams, only two, LISCR and BYC, are noted to pay their coaches well, at least.”
He said coaches can do better once they are paid well, and provided with better incentives. “How many players have places of their own where they make research to prepare their games? And it is because coaches are not paid well, among others that they appear not to do their best.”
Coach Tamba, who is also a Confederation of African Football (CAF) Education Officer, said for Liberia to turn the situation around, Liberian clubs will have to consider several issues, including structure, developing a philosophy for the clubs, and develop professional clubs.
He said football clubs must develop an effective administrative structure, create a philosophy of why they are organized and statements of where they would be in the next five years, as well as developing youth teams.
“The youth teams idea can begin from ages 10 to 14 in two groups with focus on the fundamentals of the game so that at 14, and after going through a structured training, players would have known what it means to do any of the instructions that go with playing soccer,” he said.
He also admitted that Liberia presently lacks coaches to take youths through the fundamentals and said it is a drawback for any future execution of the youth teams idea.
Coach Tamba then noted that making teams professional means paying all coaches well on contract and providing them enough room to experiment. “The same idea has been developed by CAF and FIFA in their club licensing initiative that the LFA recently put into execution that many teams complained about,” he said.
Though coach Tamba insisted that because foreign teams don’t have a free ride whenever they play Liberian teams at home, as it was in the past, it suggests that the game is improving gradually.
“We need to do more,” he said, and predicted that changes could come in the next ten years, only with commitment and dedication to do what is necessary for the development of the game in Liberia.