Monday, July 11, 2011

Coach attacks England team

Hard to believe the women's world cup is almost over. Semi-finals tomorrow with France vs America and Japan vs Sweden. Who would have thought Germany would go out and out to Japan at that? The France-England game was heart-breaking. Penalties are a horrible way to decide a game.

Have to say I was more than a bit surprised at England coach Hope Powell's comments after the penalty shoot-out. The Guardian reports she said: "Three times I had to ask [for volunteers] before anyone stepped forward. "'Where are you?' I was thinking, and then a young kid is the first to put her hand up. And Kelly Smith was dying on her feet but she stepped up and took one. You've got to want to take a penalty, but other players should have come forward and they didn't. That's weak, it's cowardice."
Powell looking for volunteers
Fair enough to think it, say it to the players but say it out to the media? Why? It's causing a twitter-storm among the players and hardly seems the best way to recover from a loss. Powell always struck me as ambitious and focused in her approach to the team. But why slate them in public like that? No matter how disappointed or frustrated you are, there is surely a better way to deal with the problem. And, of course, the other question is why the players were so slow to step up? I posted a few months back here on the differences between male and female approaches to competitiveness - if there is a difference. This makes me wonder again. I mean, can you imagine any of the prima donnas on the male England team not wanting to take a penalty?

What do you think, should Powell have spoken out? Have you seen teams holding back like this before?



Emmet Ryan said...

I don't think gender comes into play here as much as tenure. I know of several instances in the men's game, including Ireland's shootout win over Romania, where players avoided volunteering for a shootout. They weren't publicly admonished by their coach but Powell has fallen into the trap that a lot of coaches who hold onto a role for an extended period do where they don't temper their words in public as much over time.

There's also a practical element here, why on earth was she looking for volunteers? The USA had their takers selected since the previous day, with only one change made on the day due to injury. Even that was prepared in advance. Shootouts selection should not be about 'bottle', the coach picks the team based on who they think is best. They don't suddenly shirk that responsiblility when it comes to selecting penalty takers.

niamh said...

@Emmet - thats a good point, why didn't Powell have them picked? I didn't think of that, but yeah it's not like penalities are that unusal in soccer. Strange. Also didn't know about Ireland, so that nullifies my point. Phew!

Snowcatcher said...

Not a soccer player and don't get much chance to watch it, so I can't speak to the penalty and volunteer questions, but my first thought was similar to Emmet's. To me, when a coach begins lashing out like that in public, it might mean it's time for a change. It also is a sign of extreme frustration. Everyone experiences that at one time or another, some more often than others. As Emmet says, it's up to us to temper our reactions to situations and outcomes we can't change.