Monday, June 21, 2021

Twenty-four years of coaching and still going strong

Coaching is definitely not a job for the fainthearted. It needs passion, total commitment with a lot of dedications and even sacrifices.

Almost all top coaches in the top leagues around the world are always feeling the heat of the job because a slight mistake can mean packing their bags for good.

As if that is not enough coaching in a country like Botswana, where football is still at amateur level and where almost everything is disorganised, is even more challenging, especially for a foreigner.

Teams are always looking for immediate results and the situation is being made worse by hard to please supporters.

It is, however, unbelievable that one man endured all the challenges and stood the test of the times by coaching for a record 24 years and is still going strong.

It is none other than Clever Hunda, who currently drills Police XI, the team he rejoined towards the end of last season and also the first team he joined when he first came to Botswana in 1984.
Of all the 24 years he coached in Botswana, there are few medals he can show from his hard work but is he is, nonetheless, still proud of his work, saying he contributed a lot to the development of football in Botswana.

“I think I am the most unfortunate coach in this country and almost everybody who follows football in this country can attest to that. I have transformed so many teams and made them forces to reckon with. Every time I am supposed to harvest fruits of hard labour by winning medals I’m always shown the door. It just happened recently just before I re-joined Police XI. I was fired by Uniao Flamengo Santos after winning my first major medal of the Coca-Cola Cup after 23 years of coaching in this country. However I do not have hard feeling because my track record speaks volumes,” he said.

Regarding the Santos issue, Hunda says that it was the most painful experience of his coaching career and at the same time very emotional. “Just like many teams I coached, I joined Santos when they were struggling. I had to get rid of old players who were nearing end of their careers and risked by mostly using the youngsters and it paid off. I gave several of them a chance and they proved that they can compete in the Premier League,” he said.

By transforming teams in dire situations to greater heights this means there is something in Hunda that many coaches are lacking.

“When I join any team I don’t act like a coach to the players, but like a father figure. You will find that there are many skilful players around with a lot of potential and are not playing well due to variety of factors. I always try to sit down with them to find out their problems and give them a fatherly advice. That, I believe, is my major secret weapon that has helped me nurture a lot of talent found in this country,” he said.

Hunda has so far proven that he has the ability to transform the players he once coached into good coaches also. A typical example is Daniel Nare who Hunda coached at BMC.

Nare is proving to be an upcoming good coach because he has already been in charge of a big team, Gunners, for three years now and he performed relatively well.

“I am really happy for Nare because during his playing days I normally advised him to try coaching while there was still time. The story of Nare is an interesting one from his playing days because I am the one who gave him a big break into football. He was playing for Gunners juniors while still schooling at Lobatse Senior Secondary. Gunners were reluctant to promote him to the first team because they had great players like Scara Kebalepile and Tumie Duiker for his position. Despite the rivalry that was there between BMC and Gunners, I ended up persuading him to join the latter and he immediately made miracles. He was actually a midfielder and I converted him to a defender,” he said.

Hunda, however, added that several other coaches from his hands are following in the footsteps of Nare and is optimistic they will do well. Although a strict disciplinarian, Hunda sees growth in Botswana football. He says the administration part is a huge problem.

“When I look at the way our teams are run in this country and compare it to yester years, I feel like crying. Most teams used to have the best managers who sacrificed a lot and invested much into teams and results were coming. Why can’t teams swallow their pride and beg them back. At Tafic there used to be Geoffrey Maygilip and Rashid Chopdat at Gunners. People started messing things up and now look where those teams are. In those years, it was difficult to come up with a point from Francistown and now teams are guaranteed maximum points there,” he said.

Hunda also emphasises that the issue of institutional teams has taken Botswana soccer backwards because teams that used to produce good players are almost dead. He said it is unfortunate because those teams were using local players and most of them were in the national team. He gave an example of his native Zimbabwe where he said are institutional teams competing against community ones but the former rarely win major tournaments. Hunda said teams should be organised and compete and stop pointing fingers in the wrong direction and Botswana will become a footballing powerhouse in Africa.

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