Clive ‘The Dog’ Barker still barking

2016-04-22 14:24
Clive Barker (Gallo)

Cape Town - It's a long way from his pinnacle experience as a coach when he guided Bafana Bafana to what is still South Africa's only major soccer success in the African Nations Cup 20 years ago - to helping a team of Durban youngsters in one of the Motsepe-sponsored SAFA amateur leagues today.

"I'm doing it," explained the popular and acclaimed 71-year-old coach who has been nicknamed 'The Dog', "because for more than 54 years, first as a player and then a coach, it has been an integral part of my life. And I’ll probably continue doing it in one way or another for as long as I live."

With "The Dog" still barking as he approaches the end of his coaching career, he says it remains  fun, stimulating and satisfying to plan and motivate a team of enthusiastic players - "no matter at what level they are  performing as long as they are intent on improving and striving to do the best they can."

 He started out in senior soccer as a 17 year-old midfielder with Durban City in the old National Football League in 1962 and then after a brief spell with Norman "The Silver Fox" Elliott's popular combination moved to Durban United until a serious knee injury ended his playing career in 1969.

He then coached a succession of amateur clubs in Durban for almost 10 years before Durban City made an offer to their erstwhile budding midfielder to return to the club in the capacity of head coach. 

He helped City to honours in the early, formative years of the non-racial NPSL and then moved with growing success through the ranks of teams like AmaZulu and an eye-catching, exciting Bush Bucks until he stepped onto the international stage to succeed Augusto Palacios as Bafana coach shortly before the 1996 African Nations Cup.

Despite South Africa hosting the tournament, few gave Bafana much chance of winning the tournament, but with infectious, characteristic enthusiasm Barker maintained from the start of his tenure that it could be done - and he was proved right. 

He also guided Bafana through the qualifying rounds for the 1998 World Cup - only to be deposed before the tournament in France by Frenchman Phillipe Troussier.

And his varied career since in the NSL and PSL has also been a continual kaleidoscope of stimulating success inter-mingled with falls from grace - often when least expected - like that in his last tenure with a professional club at the tail-end of last year when he appeared to turn round the fortunes of a struggling, relegation-threatened Maritzburg United - only to be fired after five games. 

"But the ups and downs has never affected my enthusiasm for the game," he says, "and that's why I'm doing what I am right now with a team in the Motsepe amateur league.

"And with soccer seemingly in my blood I'll continue my association with the beautiful game as long as I can."

Read more on:    clive barker  |  soccer


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