Some people would say that much too much has already been written about the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Eric Parker of Franchising Plus, the South African licensee for Whichfranchise, put it beautifully when he said that “we are all a bit soccered out by now”. Should you feel this way, don’t worry. I am not really a soccer fan so I won’t add to the deluge of soccer commentary but believe that there is plenty of room left for peripheral observations. After all, should we take a narrow view of the 2010 Soccer World Cup and see it as a one-month sporting extravaganza that is now a thing of the past then it would have been a huge waste of resources.
Fortunately, this is not the case at all. The beauty of the event is that we can benefit from it in very many ways and for a long time to come. For example, an analysis of how Bafana Bafana managed to beat the mighty French national soccer team contains valuable lessons on team building and coaching, so let’s start with that.
Setting the scene
In 2006, the French were among the finalists in the FIFA World Cup. More recently, they were widely seen as having a real shot at taking the coveted cup home this time round. Contrast this with Bafana Bafana’s lacklustre history. They were seen as no-hopers yet managed to beat the once mighty French. What happened?
The magical ingredients that helped Bafana Bafana win were self-confidence (not cockiness!) tempered by a large dose of team spirit. On paper, the French were the better team but their Achilles heel was disunity. The players fought with each other, they fought with their coach and there was even infighting among members of the management team. This led to an erosion of trust within the French camp and in the end, they paid the price.
In stark contrast, Bafana Bafana, who probably wouldn’t have made it into the last 32 save for the fact that as the host country’s national team they automatically qualified, conducted themselves with honour. Their secret weapon was not a specific star player but team cohesion. Coach Carlos Pereira put his reputation on the line by taking a bunch of no-hopers and moulding them into a credible team. OK, Pereira did not come cheap but he helped our team achieve more than many of us had dared to hope for.
How did Pereira do it?
It all started when Pereira, in spite of fierce criticism from many quarters, took his squad to a remote foreign country for a training camp. He knew that away from friends, family and starry-eyed supporters, they would depend on each other for emotional support. This developed their team spirit which was sadly lacking before. Letting them play against a series of progressively stronger teams at increasingly more challenging venues was another master stroke. It exposed the players to the cauldron of a world-class stadium on D-day in baby steps and helped them build their confidence.
An incident that took place after the game revealed Pereira’s true stature. He approached French coach Raymond Domenech, clearly not to gloat but simply to shake his hand, a customary gesture among competitors who have respect for each other. This was clearly too much for the French coach who refused to accept the gesture and abruptly walked away.
Granted, Bafana Bafana didn’t make it into the second round but unlike the French who returned to a hostile reception back home, Bafana Bafana exited the tournament with their pride intact. And whilst heads are bound to roll in the French team, Bafana Bafana has every reason to face the future with quiet confidence.
This illustrates the pivotal role a team’s coach occupies. Is it really that far fetched to see the franchisor as the head coach of his/her team of franchisees? The way we see it, it is up to the franchisor to recruit the best available individuals as team members (franchisees) then mould them into a winning unit.
This is not the only lesson the franchise fraternity can take away from the world cup. We have identified several more and will deal with them in future issues of this newsletter.