Volker Finke
National Coach of the Cameroon football team

Volker Finke
Volker Finke | Photo: Achille Chountsa

For the National Coach of the Cameroon football team,we must also have a plan B next to the football. We spoke with Volker Finke just at the begining of the world football cup 2014.

Soccer Teams are now multicultural, with players from different countries. How does a coach like you get to reconcile everyone?

The fact that I can interact with players both in French and English is a real asset. Even when I was coaching in Freiburg we had players from different countries and cultures. At that time, each player was offered German courses from the outset. The first bridge of mutual human understanding is through the use of a common language. In addition, I am particularly interested in the conditions of work and life in the country of my players. It is interesting for me to know how people live elsewhere and how they think. And it is all the more necessary as it helps us to understand certain behaviors and characteristics of players.

Can we today still speak of a "national" football team since the majority of players play in championships in various countries of the world?

The national team already has a common denominator; they are players who, by their origins and /or their habits, feel emotionally attached to a country to which they belong. It is true that through globalization and migration of various kinds, our society is becoming more and more heterogonous.  This affects the definition of the concept of national identity and that of identity. (Indeed, perhaps the concept of a ‘national’ team will no more make sense actually). The most important thing is that, players that integrate national teams have the support of the people when they participate in competitions. Especially for countries in the South like Cameroon where the most talented players work and play abroad, it is difficult to build a strong team at the international level with the players left out.

Does globalization contribute to the globalization of football and the emergence of a form of uniform intercultural player?

It certainly contributes to the widening of one’s horizon if one has the possibility to live in other countries and work in an intercultural team. Now the management of this potential depends of course on each player and also on the different associations. In general it is in fact required to have a minimum of talent and football knowledge, to have a sense of professionalism in the workplace. And then there is almost no difference between the clubs in major championships. This has given birth to a flexible type of player who can, throughout his career, change leagues and countries several times. Of course I also see the danger that may arise when an international elite player lives in a bubble almost regardless of the country where it is located.

Football matches in Africa in general and Cameroon in particular are often characterized by magic. Have you ever been confronted with this phenomenon? What do you think?

Oh, I know that very well. Since I have been working for years with African players, I know about their visits to the marabout, gri-gris, and tinctures and ointments of specific odors. If it helps the player to curb the tension caused by his work, I have nothing against that. On the contrary, if I feel that the "mystical" exerts pressure on any player or the team in a way that could harm them, then I am obliged to speak.

How would you advise a young Cameroonian player wanting to move to Germany?

Obviously, he must have spent as much time as possible playing in one of the best teams in the league in Cameroon. Then he must begin to learn the language. Of course, he must also have a plan B next to the football.