Coaching: Knowledge Is Key To Changing Football

By Kenn Okaka

Football is a dynamic sport with many facets. It is a game that is loved and played across the world by all ages.  It’s a technical game defined by skills, strategy, and tactics. 

At the highest levels of the game, winning is a combination of the most skillful players and the best strategy and tactics. 

This is why the role of the coach is critical in football and why when things don’t go according to plan whether at club or national level it is the coach who pays the price-because he/she is the strategist, he/she is the tactician.

When the current Football Kenya Federation (FKF) president Nick Mwendwa was first elected into office in February 2016, one of the shortcomings that the federation instantly noticed was a huge gap in the coaching department across the country. At the time, Kenya had a shortfall of tacticians knowledgeable enough to train players, especially children at the grassroots level.

Previously, children who had an interest in football were handled by untrained coaches, essentially a waste of time and talent.

One of the reasons Europe dominates global football is that they have tens of thousands of skilled coaches. Even parents and teachers take coaching courses to work with their children.

And so the federation launched an aggressive capacity building program that continues to date.

Training coaches is one of the sure ways to raise the standards of the game in the country. Trained coaches improve players, improve teams, and raise the level of competition across the country.

The new FKF administration, therefore, embarked on serious training of coaches and coach instructors from the grassroots level offering them basic and advance coaching courses, CAF D, CAF C, and CAF B levels subsequently.

Before the end of this year, FKF will conduct its first-ever CAF A coaching course in the country, which is a tremendous milestone.

So far, over six thousand (6,000) coaches have benefited from the training offered by the federation. The truth is 6,000 is not enough. To change football in Kenya, we need 5 to ten times this number. And that is the journey we are on and the journey we must remain on.

There are less than 100 elite coaches in Kenya (CAF B and A level) – we need to get to a point where we have 300, then 500 to 1,000, and the difference will be massive. 

Today, almost every grassroots team at the lowest level is being handled by a well-trained coach who understands what he needs to train the players at their level through the guidance of the FKF curriculum.

CAF diplomas open doors for the coaches for opportunities in Kenya and outside the country besides helping in raising the standards of the game at the grassroots.

At the highest levels of the game, football is about knowledge, and coaches are the vessels that bring it to players and teams. Knowledge affects quality, quality affects winning. This is the formula to a better future for Kenyan football. 

The coaching courses are also a way for players to continue a life in football after retirement. Players, especially those who play at the highest levels, have some knowledge about the game-venturing into coaching, which will give them a new perspective on football. 

Kenn Okaka is the media and communications officer at Football Kenya Federation

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