The only African, member of the British Psychological Society, Sport Psychologist and Licensed Coach by the English Football Association, Nsangou Alirou opines that if players are introduced to psychological training at a young age, Cameroon can regain its past glory when it had a strong national team. Given that Cameroonian and African teams lack psychological training, he proposes psychologists in the national team and academies in Cameroon as it is done in the British football academies. Lions4life interviewed Alirou, a staff of Blackburn Rovers Academy during a friendly organised by Frank Football Academy Vs Ouragan FC, a club in Yaoundé.
Tell us why you are in Cameroon
I am here with a project on the psychology of the game to propose to players. From England and the Black Burn Rovers where I work and hired to teach the psychology of the game in the US, I thought it wise, (to try because I am not going to make it straight away, since this is something new) to propose this aspects that is often ruled out from many of our talented players. In Europe players are not playing any more, not because of the lack of the technical and physical qualities, but because they lack the psychological side of the game.
How important is the psychological side of the game?
I think the first part of the game is psychological. I am recruiting at Blackburn Rovers and our characteristics are based on psychology. Talent is the psychological side of the game; how can a player concentrate on the right thing at the right time. How confident is he on his skills, how can he communicate with his teammates, coaches and how is he controlling his emotions when the times are tough? These are qualities that monitor the physical and technical side of the game anybody see. We can all see that a player is dribbling two players, that he is fast, but nobody tries to find out what makes him do that; everything starts from the brain. If we can develop those aspects of the game at a young age, then we can guarantee in the next five-ten years to have back the Cameroon national team.
At times players are accused of not using their heads when playing is that part of the psychology?
When we talk about ‘psych’ we mean brain and ‘logo’ means study; this means the study of our brain. We represent our brain and if we don’t think, we don’t create before during and after the game. That is what we don’t have. It is not enough having the physical and technical part of the game.
Do you think the national team and Cameroon in general lack the psychological part of football?
We lack it not just in Cameroon but in African and even in Europe because psychology in football is something new. But, in England presently there is no academy without a phycologist so I thought if we want to be the best we should learn from the best. Thank God Cameroon has got the only African member of the British Psychological Society that I am, the only African approved as a psychologist. This initiative is important for future of football.
What is the advice already from this game, Frank Football Academy vs Ouragan you watched?
We need to work on the psychology and the social aspects of the game, that is concentration, confidence, communication and control of emotions. The commitment and technical knowledge are there. The situation and circumstances of playing force the players to give their best and don’t need the facilities like in Europe to play with full intensity or commitment or train hard, what is left is to work the brain.
How can this new approach change the way football is played in Cameroon and Africa?
It is all about development, procedure; my programme involves commitment, concentration, control of emotions and confidence. It is a programme that i have designed to work with coaches to provide simple strategies in a regular training session.
So what message?
There is no message I worked with the coaches on how to implement the strategy in a training session, how things could be done differently to develop psychological part of the game.
Interviewed by KIla Jisi