Baroka FC coach Kerr has squad playing for cans of coke in training
Keeping players competitive and ready to resume when the coronavirus health scare has passed is the challenge for top-flight coaches while the Premier Soccer League season is suspended.
Nedbank Cup semifinalists Baroka FC have kept training throughout this week‚ will be taking the weekend off but coming right back to work on Monday.
“We are carrying on as normal‚” explained coach Dylan Kerr‚ who took over at the end of last year.
It is a challenging time for the 53-year-old coach‚ who has to try and keep things interesting for his players without the option of playing any matches.
“I’m doing sessions that the players enjoy and trying to keep it competitive throughout‚” he said.
That meant a five-a-side tournament this week where players chose the captain‚ who in turn picked the teams and gave each side a name – including “Coronavirus FC”.
So competitive does it get‚ says Kerr‚ that there can be some long faces among the losers.
Kulegani Madondo‚ the former Maritzburg United and AmaZulu midfielder‚ was so cross with his teammates he left three of them‚ who had agreed to take home in his car‚ behind at the training ground in Lebowakgomo‚ some 55km from Polokwane.
“They all had to take a taxi home‚” roared the coach.
Kerr says his ideas for ensuring that training remains interesting comes from what worked for him when he was a player.
“I go on what I know worked for me. I don’t want to over-complicate things but every week I’m introducing something new in to training‚” he said.
“The players loved the five-a-side tournament. The chirping among themselves was intense and it got the right juices flowing.
“The winning team gets large can of Coke. We are playing for something‚ having fun and staying competitive.” Baroka last weekend booked their place in the Nedbank semifinals‚ where they have drawn Bloemfontein Celtic at home.
“The cup must be seen as a bonus but we are glad to be in the semifinal and glad to be up against Celtic at home although we know it will be tough‚” Kerr said.
“But I’ve told the guys that if we win the semifinal I know we are going to go on and win the final. I believe if we get to the final‚ we’ll win it.
“The way we have been playing over the last weekends‚ there is a lot of confidence in the squad and a lot of belief. We’ve also cut out a lot of the mistakes that had been costing us.”
Baroka were Telkom Knockout winners last season.
“Nobody gave them a chance against Orlando Pirates in that final and they won.
“We still have some players left from that team and others who haven’t played in a final before.
“I’ve told them they can go out here and write their own history‚” said Kerr.
The top priority‚ however‚ is staying up in the top-flight. Baroka are above the drop zone on goal difference only. “That is what makes this suspension hard because we were coming off three good performances‚ including two good wins‚ and now that momentum is lost.
“But I think it’s right what the league and the government have done shutting things down‚” he added.