IOL soccer writer Njabulo Ngidi. Photo: Karen Sandison

The problem with being in one job at one company for a long time is that they take you for granted which stunts your growth.

It’s a sad reality; people don’t realise or appreciate what they have until it’s gone. 

Once another company comes after your services you find them fawning over you, promising you the stars and the moon just so that they can keep you. 

But keeping your employees happy and acknowledging their growth requires less effort than fighting to keep them when they want to move on.

I thought about this when I heard that Kaitano Tembo has been appointed SuperSport United’s interim coach for the umpteenth time after Eric Tinkler’s sudden resignation. 

The Zimbabwean has occupied every coaching post at Matsatsantsa a Pitori from the junior ranks to the Under-19s, reserve team as well as serving as an assistant for various first team coaches.

Tembo’s blood is blue and white having been with the club since 1999 as a player. 

Next year will be his 20th year at SuperSport. He should celebrate that milestone as the club’s head coach. SuperSport’s chief executive Stanley Matthews hinted that it’s up to Tembo to make that a reality.

“I think that for him as a person, we need to keep that process and door open,” Matthews told my colleague Mazola Molefe.

“If he delivers (during this time as an interim coach) he would surely be a favourite candidate come June and the off season when we have to look for a permanent appointment for next season.

“He has stepped in a few times as caretaker coach and I think now is a moment of truth in his career. This is an opportunity to see if he is interested in the job first.

“This will be the longest spell he has had in charge as an interim coach. 

“I thought Kaitano started well on Saturday (last week in the goalless draw with Maritzburg United).We were very pleased with what we saw. We will look at the CVs, narrow them down, and Kaitano’s name will be there near the top.”

Tembo’s longevity at SuperSport has been to his disadvantage in moving up at the club.

If you spend too much time in one company, people find it hard to realise your growth as their eyes are still tinged with where you started and not what you have developed into.

It’s bizarre how SuperSport hired Gordon Igesund, a man known for his penchant of using old players while Matsatsantsa boast one of the best development structures in the country.

That marriage was short-lived just like that with Cavin Johnson and Eric Tinkler. Stuart Baxter also didn’t last long but he left on a high, after successfully retaining the Nedbank Cup before he went to join Bafana Bafana.

Mathews admitted that it’s been disappointing that the club hasn’t had a coach who stayed with them for a long time like Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt did.

The success those two coaches enjoyed was due to home-grown talent not only on the pitch but in the technical team assisting them. Tembo is as home-grown as they come.

He proved his worth by guiding SuperSport in the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup, going to Lubumbashi to face the mighty TP Mazembe and leave with not only a point, but also a standing ovation from the continent's most loyal and hard-to-please fans.

Under Tembo’s leadership SuperSport reached the knockout stage of the Confederation Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

It’s about time that the club viewed him as more than an assistant coach or a stop-gap replacement before they find their man.

What I respect about Tembo is that he has maintained his dignity throughout his ups and downs with SuperSport, putting the team before his personal ambitions.

He has constantly argued that everything he has gone through has been a learning curve in his growth as a coach.

The 47-year-old couldn’t even bring himself to say he deserves this job such is his humility and drive to help SuperSport first and focus on himself later.

Getting out of the assistant coach zone seems to be as hard as getting out of the friendzone  the abyss that has drowned many men and women only viewed as friends by their love interests.

Fadlu Davids got out of the “assistant coach zone” and is doing wonders with the Team of Choice. With support and trust, Tembo could do the same if not more with SuperSport if the club gives him a chance.

Saturday Star

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