Monday, 18 December 2017

If I were a coach

A few weeks ago, my church, ICGC Joy Temple – Kaneshie, invited a stalwart of ICGC as a guest preacher during our 10th anniversary celebrations. There was so much excitement and anticipation about the kind of message this great man will deliver. It was a simple message – one that leaves you feeling happy and uncomfortable at the same time. This is because it urges you to do more and yet it stings because there are hard truths in there that challenge some of the things you do or fail to do.

Out of the many things the Rev. Anthony Cudjoe, who is also the Regional Overseer, said, I found one especially striking.
The preacher asked, “How many of you know Lionel Messi?” Most people lifted their hands. He asked again, “What is the name of his coach?” There were a few hesitations since most people were not sure.
He went on, “How many of you know Ronaldo?” Almost all hands were up. Even those of us who don’t pay attention to football lifted our hands. Of course, we know him. Again, he asked, “What’s the name of his coach?” Again, a thunderous silence followed.
He stated that no matter how hard the coach works or how popular he thinks he is, he is not the star. The real stars in football are the players. The stars are the footballers on the field and they are the ones most people care about. It is because they are the real stars. Any coach who forces to be in the limelight like a footballer will lose his focus. That is not the reason why he was hired.
Reverend Cudjoe said this in passing. But it made a lot of sense to me. It just got me to appreciate roles and responsibilities better.
The truth is that the coach is expected to teach, guide, direct, instruct, train and strategise. In football, Coaches are also expected to assist in the identification and development of players.
Their main aim is to help players develop technical skills and to build them for the team to win their matches. They are not expected to play on the field. When a football match is being played, all the spectators focus on the pitch.
Their interest is in the players, what they do, how they do it and what they did not do. When a goal is scored, everyone applauds the footballer because he is the real deal for them. After the game, only the footballers are applauded, cheered and celebrated. They are the ones people follow. They are the ones people discuss on social media, on radio and on television.
The same things applied to all athletes, golfers, tennis players and the rest of them. People hardly know who the coaches are. All they care about are the sportsmen and women.
However, in every game, everything begins with the coach. They select the footballers who will form the team and determine what role they should play.
They train the footballers and make sure they are ready for the match. Once they do their work and the game begins, their roles are minimised and relegated to the background.
They watch the game carefully and make changes where necessary. However, the focus is often on the footballers.
On the field of play, they try to make themselves relevant by shouting, jumping, directing and, at best, gesticulating. However, their efforts may not make such a big difference because their work is virtually done by the time they get to the field.
When the game ends, everybody talks about the footballer who was the star of the match. When the club wins, nobody talks about how good the coach is.
However, when the club loses, it is the coach who is in trouble. Any coach who does not understand this creates problems for himself.
Coaches are not expected to be the top stars. They make stars. Some coaches are celebrities but not all of them are expected to be celebrities. They are expected to produce celebrities.
A coach is expected to be happy when his team is winning. It will be an irony if a coach is not happy when his team wins. He would probably be fired. Some coaches have limited their career because of that attitude.
So taking the lessons from football and sports generally, it is important for anyone who is directing and instructing people to understand that the people you coach are the real stars. Anyone who is a coach had a lot of experience in life and is expected to pass it on to other people.
In workplaces and various social groups, including churches, our managers, supervisors and church leaders are expected to be coaches. They are expected to lead, direct and develop the skills of their team members.
They are expected to motivate them to deliver outstanding results. When their team members take their guidance, they excel. Sometimes team members may seem to be outperforming their coaches/managers.
That is a fact of life and all team leaders must learn to accept that. If you are a team leader and you cannot accept this, you end up having headaches, heartaches and you eventually create mistrust among your team members.
Many workplace leaders, instead of being coaches, like to be the footballers. They take on everything and like to be the only one at the centre stage. We have a few people who double as both coaches and players but that is rare.
Roles are defined, the rewards agreed on and the benefits that comes with each role are different.
So if you are a coach, whether on the field, in church, at home or the work place, don’t worry too much about always not being the centre of attention.
That is not why you are there. You are there to bring out the best in people for them to become the stars. If I were a coach, I will try to cheer my stars when they deliver the best results.
On this note, I wish my pastor, Rev Mrs Charlotte Quagraine, who is a great coach, and the entire ICGC Joy Temple – Kaneshie members a happy 10th anniversary.

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