Galaxy sack Serbian coach
Coach Zlatko Krmpotic’s sacking at Jwaneng Galaxy, which came this week after weeks of speculation, would have been almost unthinkable 6 months ago.
Krmpotic was ‘walking on water’ in the eyes of many Galaxy fans towards the end of last year, after leading the club to a deserved second spot finish of the season and after the club stormed into the finals of the Mascom Top 8 two years ago.
Roughly one year on, he finds himself leaving the club that has protected him so much from criticisms aimed at him and any insinuations that he might be ousted from his position at the club.
The dents that ultimately bashed his reputation altogether, came when Galaxy fell way short in their domestic title challenge and limped out of the Champions League in the preliminary phase. Krmpotic has protested throughout that in leading Galaxy back to the top of the country’s game after years in the wilderness, he could have achieved all that could be expected of him.
He might have also lamented GU’s lack of impact in last year’s close-season transfer window, having seen good players failing to come to his team. Also, veteran player, Boitumelo Mafoko remained on the side-lines for a long time and later announced his retirement from the team he faithfully represented, even when the chips were down, under his watch.
All the while, there are unconfirmed reports that there was a lot of interference from the management of Galaxy which inadvertently gave the coach the leverage to lay the blame for these setbacks squarely at the door of the club’s board for moving too slowly in making decisions.
Tebogo Sembowa, Terrence Mandaza and Patrick Kaunda found the net not more than 20 times all combined. Mandaza in particular has not gone beyond 10 goals in the league this term. Creative midfielders Olebogeng Malebye and Tebogo Sosome have been deeply disappointing, while Thero Setsile and Thabo Leinanyane are no longer the rocks upon which Galaxy founded last season’s cup triumph.
Even the goalkeeper‘s form, Anthony Gous has taken a nosedive. Arguably the best goalkeeper in the last two seasons, Gous has produced a number of poor performances, with high-profile blunders in games against Township Rollers and Orapa United. Krmpotic’s man-management has also come under scrutiny, and things were further complicated when he could not wrestle the league from Rollers even when numerous opportunities presented themselves.
Despite his disappointment, Krmpotic would hear Galaxy fans chanting his name at the UB Stadium during the last game encounter against Centre Chiefs. But as fate would have it, he could not win the league. This confirmed that he was not the man to restore glory to Jwaneng and he would not want for sympathy.
But, it is however, noted with concern that Krmpotic’s position has always been all but untenable. Galaxy were in precisely in the same position when he became a coach a year ago. Then, it was common knowledge that he would supersede the then incumbent, Mike Sithole who gave them the Top 8 title when they desperately needed a cup to break the drought.
Despite the unedifying nature of this episode, Galaxy somehow believe they acted correctly because they took the time to analyse the situation and come to a conclusion of who they want as their next coach. With Galaxy now announcing that they parted ways with the coach amicably, it seems Krmpotic was not the one who guided African heavy weights, TP Mazembe to several cup glories. “The team management and the coach could not agree on contractual terms and both parties resolved to close negotiations amicably,” a statement from the club partly reads.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”