Rhulani: Hopefully people will look beyond age soon
Former Orlando Pirates interim coach Rhulani Mokwena has bemoaned the mentality in South African football where young coaches are looked down upon.
Mokwena, who is currently head coach of Chippa United. was barely given a chance when he took over the reins at Pirates after the departure of Milutin Sredojevic, with his reign lasting only four months before he was replaced by Josef Zinnbauer.
And the 33-year-old has cited the examples of coaches overseas who had success at a young age, Julian Nagelsmann currently of RB Leipzig in particular.
"I'd like to be a coach that tries my best to show my capacity; I believe that gone are the days when – hopefully, very soon – people will look beyond age and skin colour, and will focus on competence and the capacity of people," said Mokwena during a SAFJA presser.
"[Julien] Nagelsmann is just a case in point – he didn't play professional football; he's 32 years old and he's German, and he's been given the responsibility of leading not just Hoffenheim before but now RB Leipzig – one of the biggest teams in the Bundesliga.
"Now, here in South Africa it's very, very difficult for young coaches to be able to [enjoy the same opportunities]. In fact, we set them up for failure, and the pity is that black people set black coaches up for failure.
"It's a pity, but it's a sensitive topic and time will tell. I'll speak about it one day, because after my first match, I had a senior player at Pirates come to me...
"Micho had left on the Friday; we played Highlands Park on the Saturday – less than 24 hours after Micho left; on Sunday we had regeneration and recovery; Monday we had training at Rand Stadium, and a senior player came to me.
"He said someone – within the organisation, not senior but someone in the club – phoned him and said to him, 'Are you happy with the coach [Mokwena]?' Or, 'Are you happy that the coach has been given the job as head coach?'
"I tell you, I had not even done a training session as a head coach, not even one, and already people were planting doubts into the players about my capacity to lead the team.
"So, those are the things. I don't think that would have happened to any other coach. It's a pity, but it is what it is, and these things make us stronger; you can't dwell too much on these things.
"Now you know, when Palacios says, 'Eh, you must walk with your wall to the back here in football.' Now you understand what he means, because you learn from experience."