Sibongiseni Gumbi
Football Writer
3 minute read
1 Jul 2020
3:07 pm

Tembo worried about his young players’ welfare during lockdown

Sibongiseni Gumbi

Young players hold a special place in SuperSport United coach, Kaitano Tembo’s heart and he kept in constant contact with the younger members of his squad during lockdown looking after their welfare.  

Kaitano Tembo, the coach of SuperSport United pleased with his side's 1-1 result against Orlando Pirates: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images.

The 49-year-old mentor was more worried about the youngsters and kept in constant contact with them.

“The main part for me has been to focus on the mental part,” Tembo told a South African Football Journalists Association (Safja) virtual media conference on Wednesday.

“Most of the youngsters are away from home and are not allowed any visitors. So, you have to call them constantly just to make sure that they communicate with the people back home and that they are settled, that they do not panic because it is a difficult situation.

“Can you imagine when every time you switch on the TV and watch the news you see the infections rate and death tolls rising and that can make you panic. That’s why we had to constantly communicate with the youngsters to make sure they are settled,” he said.

Tembo also explained that his belief in young players stems from his experience in the development ranks where he saw a number of talented youngsters give up on their football because of a lack of progress in terms of graduating to the senior team.

Tembo said the lockdown was a difficult situation that no one was prepared for and they had to find new ways of doing the normal stuff.

“It’s been difficult because no one expected this to happen… We had to learn along the way, and try to adapt, and try new things which we had never done before.

“Communication has been very key, but the first few weeks were really tough. We needed to make sure the players train according to the programs we set for them.

“The players have adjusted although they miss each other, they want to train as a group, as a family. We have that environment of family where we are reliant on each other. I am happy with what I have seen so far, with the attitude.

“What I have liked is the attitude towards training because we never had to push anyone to do their program. The players had to be self-reliant.

“We normally give them two weeks off in the off-season with a training program to follow and they come back in bad shape because it’s a bit difficult to train on your own.

“But now it has been three months that we haven’t seen or trained with each other. We are happy with what we had been seeing and we know we will not have to start from scratch when we resume,” said Tembo.

He also said he hopes the players have taken lessons from this pause and realised that their careers can be cut short at any time.

“This is one moment where we had to take a step back and realise what happens when something that we love so much is taken away from us. [Hopefully] the players have realised that they have to take their careers seriously because it is something that can be taken away at any time.”

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.