The over-dependence on foreign coaches and a perceived lack of faith in Asian coaches dominated the discussions on the final day of the Asian Football Confederation's 1st Football Conference here yesterday.
AFC secretary-general Datuk Peter Vellapan started the ball rolling during his talk on “Vision Asia - The way forward” by asking why Asian countries prefer hiring foreign coaches.
“Many national football associations in Asia think that foreign coaches are magicians and can conjure results immediately. It is madness, as some countries change coaches every six to 12 months, often giving a coach just four or five matches to prove himself.
“These national associations need to trust their own coaches and development programme and not start to build a house from the top. There are many talented and qualified coaches in Asia who are not getting opportunities to prove their worth,” said Vellapan.
AFC president Mohamed Hammam added his two cents worth on the topic by explaining that part of the blame should fall on the Asian coaches themselves for not believing in their own abilities.
“The Asian coaches must take the lead to win the trust of national associations. But when they doubt their own ability, they think that they don't deserve the top coaching positions in their own country.
“Asian coaches also don't venture out of their own countries like their European or South American counterparts. They should make use of opportunities to learn more by coaching on foreign soil,” said Hammam.
Current Indonesian national coach Peter Withe, who had earlier spent five years in charge of Thailand, however, came out in strong support of foreign coaches in Asia.
“The foreign coaches have played their part in helping football in the region. My record in lifting the Thai national team to win regional titles as well as challenge for honours at the top Asian level during my five years there speaks for itself.
“It is up to local coaches to pick up the proper knowledge from the foreigners. But not many of them are doing it,” said the Englishman.
UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh said that the teams' mindset that foreign coaches are better than locals was not just an Asian problem, but was also apparent in Europe.
“Without a doubt, one day there will be Asians who will be regarded as top coaches in the world. Japan have already implemented a successful programme to produce good local coaches,” said Roxburgh.
Velappan also hit out strongly at the weak administration in some of the top national football associations in Asia.
“There is a lack of proper leadership and professional administration in national associations.
“Part-timers and amateurs are needed, but football must be managed by a professional group of people.
“The problem in Asia is that good quality people are not governing the sport. Without this, Vision Asia will not progress as it is the job of the member associations to develop the game. AFC and (world football body) FIFA are just guiding lights.”
Vision Asia is AFC's vision to turn the continent, which has 62% of the population of the world (3.7 billion), to challenge for top football honours on a regular basis with the likes of Europe, South America and Africa.