Coaches also cry, not just players

Very few have spoken of the mental health welfare of tacticians

In Summary

• Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger vomited out of frustration after losing

• Ex-Vihiga Bullets coach Edward Mafuta was roughed up after 4-0 loss to Kariobangi 

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger
Image: FILE

I am back with the topic of mental health. No matter how much I try to avoid it, the mental well-being of sportspersons keeps ringing loud in my mind, and so I am compelled to speak about it. 

Recently, I was watching the trailer of "Invincibles", a documentary about the ups and downs of Arsenal's great squad that set a precedent of going a whole season without losing a game.

Forty-nine Premier League matches unbeaten is a feat current giants in the mould of Liverpool and Manchester City have tried replicating to no avail. 

One of the highlights of this documentary is then manager Arsene Wenger confessing of the many days he could not bear to leave his house after they lost a match. 

He went to the extent of admitting at times he would vomit out of frustration after losing. Such is the toll of matches on a coach's mental fortitude. 

Whereas the world raises its voices in support of players' mental health, very few have spoken of the welfare of coaches. Wenger's revelation opens the curtains to highlight the turmoil tacticians experience while trying to spur their charges towards victories and trophies. 

The situation is further escalated by the pressure fans apply in demanding for exceptional results on the pitch. When performance drops, the buck — according to most supporters — falls with the coach, who is often presumed to be incompetent for the job at hand. 

Just ask former Newcastle boss Steve Bruce, whose team has been perennial relegation candidates and merely survived the chop last season by the skin of their teeth. 

When he was fired from his job last month, the former Manchester United defender spoke of the many times he was disheartened to hear and read what fans were saying about him — to the extent of referring to him as a cabbage-dead coach.  

Here in Kenya, coaches have not been spared supporters' wrath in a country which is football crazy. The latest was Edward Mafuta, former coach of Kenya Premier League side Vihiga Bullets, who was roughed up by fans and club officials after their 4-0 drubbing by Kariobangi Sharks. 

Over a decade ago, Cameroonian Anaba Awono had to tender his resignation on the pitch after Gor Mahia's 1-0 loss to Sher Karuturi in Naivasha.

The vociferous K'Ogalo fans had seen enough to suggest that Awono was not suited to carry the team forward. After the final whistle, they poured onto the pitch, keen to make their feelings clear through words and weapons. 

Considering these incidents, it is important for more coaches to follow Wenger and Bruce's example by speaking up about the mental consequences of their jobs. 

Only then will sports become an enjoyable activity and not a painful undertaking with adverse outcomes for the losers.