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If you settle for mediocrity, you ultimately produce mediocrity



I KNOW I wasn’t so kind to Norman Mapeza in the last instalment on this page, over the interim Warriors coach’s performance in a four-nation invitational tournament in Malawi last month.


Well, I still believe I was right in my assessment, to make those remarks. But in that I do not subtract the reality that, like others before him, there are factors behind Mapeza’s recent disappointment, as well as his poor record on the previous occasions that the former Zimbabwe captain has been at the helm of the Warriors.

To a man, we know the negative dynamics behind every previous Zimbabwe coach’s failures.

At what point, though, do we stop making excuses for these guys each time they flop?

It’s a genuine question whose answer I’m not able to expertly provide. But one Mistry Chipere, contributing to a new WhatsApp platform on Zimbabwean football, raised something that may shed light on an even bigger problem, especially when it comes to our local coaches.

You may not know much about Mistry, but this is a fellow who has been one of the minds, behind the scenes, in successfully persuading what we now call the British Brigade to answer Zimbabwe national team call-ups.

He made a bold statement, during a heated debate, that local coaches’ downfall is lack of confidence in themselves and desperation, quick as a flash to accept the national team job under undesirable conditions.

For example, when accepting to take the team to Malawi last month, did Mapeza even try to address the shortcomings pointed out by Baltemar Brito after the Portuguese coached the Warriors in two World Cup qualifiers last November, administrative faults such as skipper Marvelous Nakamba bringing his own recovery equipment from the United Kingdom, and tactical interference from Zifa officials?

Or Mapeza was just happy to get the gig, not willing to ruffle any feathers, just because he is a Zimbabwean who shouldn’t be demanding standards like the expatriates do when you give them the important task of coaching your country’s football team.

It is not patriotism to agree to take the job, under these shoddy conditions which foreigners would reject, it’s shooting yourself in the foot – roared Chipere. In fact, it’s a disservice to yourself and your country, taking a whole football-mad nation for granted. Because, he argued, you’re setting up yourself and the fans for failure by not asking for the right tools for the task at hand as expected of a national coach.

There are so many things that we overlook in Zimbabwe to deny ourselves of that little bit of edge over others. It’s one of the very reasons we expect Khama Billiat – straight from the top professionalism of the South African PSL to little Yadah FC in Zimbabwe – to produce the same magic as the Khamaldinho of old in his pomp.

No fulltime physios, no competent medics, no strengths and conditioning coaches – you name them. Worlds apart from the comforts of Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs just across the border.

When somebody comes from abroad to coach here, they request to bring along these professionals and they get their wish granted. Even an interpreter, for Christ’s sake! But if it’s Norman Mapeza, much as I will maintain my reservations about him, he gets just a couple of token assistants, handpicked for him. He’ll be lucky to even get paid for his trouble.

I wasn’t however totally surprised that there were those who found fault in what Mistry Chipere said, some of them simply for the sake of just opposing. For mediocrity has filtered down to a large constituency of this country’s football landscape.

But the coaches, who are supposed to know better, also accept it. To their own peril.