Aziz Daouda, Technical and Development Director of the Confederation of African Athletics “What we do on the pitch is just the final dish…”

Africa FootGoal : Hello Mr. Daouda. We got to know you in athletics. Have you started to work or use your expertise with football clubs?

Aziz Daouda : First of all allow me to salute on this occasion the memory of a great figure of African football who passed away, who is the coach, Coach Louzani. If you remember he was the one who qualified Morocco for the World Cup in the United States, especially in a last game played in Senegal. He left us this week. I’m going to tell you an anecdote that happened to me about 20 years ago. I had a friend who was president of a big club which is the FUS, you received the president of the FUS yesterday in this conference. This friend was in trouble because his team was not doing well. We were at the end of the first leg and his team was practically at the bottom of the table and he was afraid that FUS, a great historic team from Rabat, would end up in the second division. In a friendly discussion just like that with coach Louzani who left us and some friends, he asked me “can you help me? “. I said “ok” because it was my friend and I being from Rabat I didn’t want my favorite team to end up in the second division. And so I took the team in hand, and I applied exactly what we are talking about, that is to say, I integrated what at the time was not very known in football with some scientific recommendations: measure fatigue, see the potential of players, etc. And we started to work. We finished the year in third place in the championship. Since then I have advised a few coaches and a few football coaches.

Africa FootGoal : What are the challenges that exist in terms of performance management in Africa?

Aziz Daouda : The problem with football in Africa is that we still think of football as what we do on the pitch. What we do on the pitch is just the final dish. It is the dish as it is presented, it is the field, it is the competition. The players are in good clothes, they are willing, there is a goalkeeper who has nice gloves, etc. But what have we done before to get to be there? What are we going to do next when we leave? What is happening in our body on a mental level, the connections between us, so that we can play together and have results. This is precisely what science provides, the explanations that science provides. And unfortunately the coaches who cannot integrate these things cannot go very far. They will stay small, their results will never be where they could be. Ultimately the coach is the one who will concentrate or centralize this knowledge, it’s a lot for those shoulders, but it’s like that, there is a coach, it’s the boss. He is the one who presents the final product, he is the one who will put the dish in your hands on a table. He’s the one we’re looking at, we don’t look at the rest. But he must have the intelligence to integrate with him what can scientifically help him to move forward, because otherwise that is not possible, he cannot progress. You no longer learn football through football or athletics through athletics, it is all sport that has evolved based on scientific knowledge which is very advanced today. I thank Craig (speaker on the same panel) who also summed up the situation very well, and we should learn in coaching schools in Africa, in the courses we do in Africa, that it’s not just giving the ball right to left etc. What happens to give the ball correctly? What is going on in us to improve the way of passing, the way of shooting a ball, the way of getting on the field, how much we have to run? All of these things are extremely important and should be integrated into the training of coaches.

Africa FootGoal: We would like to hear your thoughts on the Africa FootGoal conference.

Aziz Daouda : I am very honored to have participated with eminent scientists and great football connoisseurs and great players, people who made me dream, whom I followed on screens, whom I saw move, etc. What this conference brings is precisely this scientific outlook. I would have liked this panel to be the one at the beginning so that all actors in football at all levels, managers, marketers, understand what we talked about today because it is essential in our profession today of trainer, it is the heart of the profession. The heart of the profession is not management. Earlier Sadio (speaker on the same panel) said that football is ran like a business. It’s the companies that copy football. We must not forget that all the terms used today in business have been taken from football and from sport when it comes to performance, results, those things. They were the ones who copied. So sport and especially football is ahead of business. The company copies sports. It copies a lot about sport, how you improve people’s performance, how you improve the end result, etc. I intervene a lot at the level of companies, but each time I realize that we are in sport far ahead of companies and that’s why they call on us, it’s because they have a lot to learn from us.

Africa Footgoal : Thank you very much.