The first FIFA accredited agent in South Africa and ex-Orlando Pirates coach, Mike Makaab, has a clear passion for football and spends his time securing the best career paths for his clients. He is responsible for global football contract negotiation, sponsorships and endorsements, and travels the world extensively to promote African football and footballers alike. Dirk Vale sat down with Mike and chatted all things football with the legendary icon.
Dirk Vale (DV): Do you think that local footballers have come back too quickly from international club stints? Do you think that they should stick it out a little longer?
Mike Makaab (MM): This depends upon the success of the individual on the international stage and their mental strength to compete in a foreign environment.
DV: How has the PSL improved over the years and where is there more room for improvement?
MM: It is incredibly well managed and administered and has grown in financial stature. The level of football played needs to be improved through proper development programmes for our youth players.
DV: Why do you think local teams struggle so much in the African club competitions?
MM: Once again it boils down to mental strength and a desire to be the continent’s best. However, sometimes the “playing fields are not level” when you play away from home!
DV: What struggles did you face in becoming the first FIFA accredited agent in South Africa?
MM: The perceived “threat” that I posed to clubs and club bosses who were not aware of the true role of an agent in football.
DV: Coaching a club like Orlando Pirates must’ve been quite the experience, from your perspective what was the biggest challenge being coach of the Soweto giants?
MM: Meeting the expectations of the supporters, who had lived in the shadow of rivals Kaizer Chiefs for decades? Pirates had not won the league championship for almost 20 years, when I won it in my first year with them in 1994.
DV: What have you preferred? Working as an agent or within the clubs themselves?
MM: Both, each industry has its ups and downs.
DV: As an agent what have been the struggles you’ve found for players trying to make it abroad?
MM: Mainly adjusting to an alien environment and culture. There is no doubting the talent we have in SA.
DV: South Africa seems to struggle getting their young players to move through the ranks, what in your experience should change to help ensure that we see more young players come through?
MM: As said previously, putting proper development structures in place.
DV: Who do you think is the best local player that you’ve represented?
DV: Do you think that the local game managed to gain significantly from the FIFA World Cup or could the local game have benefited even more from the tournament?
MM: Both our country and our football have benefited, in that we are no longer “a secret” to the rest of the world.
DV: Why are some PSL clubs struggling to attract fans to their games?
MM: Fans want to belong to successful brands – Chiefs and Pirates are living proof of that.
DV: How has the PSL changed since you coached Pirates?
MM: It has become much more professional and there is a great deal more money in the local game.
DV: After the poor manner in which the PSL playoff tournament has been managed this year, do you believe the current administrators have what it takes to run a professional league?
MM: Yes they do, but I do not believe that the current playoff system works, for reasons which I could discuss for the next hour or so.