As an amateur soccer player, I have some of my own insight into why Kenyan football has failed to progress on the international scene. It is because of a certain rigidity of tactics at the grassroots level. There is a tyranny of wrong attitude that can be summarized as “We don’t play like that here!” This reminder is always delivered by the resident style-of-play gatekeeper, who is typically the team captain, or one of his burlier inner crew members, if not the coach himself. “Your leg will be broken.” Thus warned, the talented upstart consequently conforms to the prevailing mechanical methods of play to remain relevant.
On the contrary, teams which have the guts to embrace new tactics reap hefty rewards in the league. (Gor Mahia FC by Logarusic? AFC Leopards' "Total Football" by Jan Koops? Yes, by all means yes.)
But I am a lowly amateur, don’t listen to me.
I used to play for my university soccer team (as a veteran benchwarmer for the most part.) Before the match began our team would warm up. Warm-up entailed a series of highly structured moves and sudden claps and noises intended to frighten the opponent into psychological tail-folding. Then we would troop into our half of the pitch, form a circle, briefly discuss tactics, pray quietly and then shout sharply to startle the opponent further. Then the substitutes and benchwarmers like myself would leave the pitch in the most intimidating, self-aggrandizing manner possible. The match would then begin. When we scored a goal, we gathered at a corner and danced something irreverent, partly in order to also hammer a psychological blow against our opponents.
(Of course we did not hold the University League monopoly on psychological terrorism. A certain rival team loved to shout ALL their internal communications and in-game tactics - in Luo.)
In this post, I’m just trying to reveal that your opponent will not always limit the battle to the battlefield. They will try to defeat you in your mind first, before the battle even begins. Be aware of this; that once they jinx your mind with fear, your vision and execution of tactics is paralyzed by your own knocking knees.
Fear not. Fight the good fight.