Cameroon national soccer team coach Rigobert Song transcends the boundaries of traditional coaching. At the head of a team of talented youngsters, the former defender provides much more than tactics and instructions. We take a closer look at his unique approach, in which good humor, confidence and enthusiasm are the keys to success.
Rigobert Song, a coach with special methods
There are many ways to coach a soccer team and with Rigobert Song, it’s not diplomas or experience that make the coach. The former captain of the Indomitable Lions is much more than just a coach for the Cameroon national soccer team. His positive attitude, unwavering confidence in his players and boundless enthusiasm have built up a strong bond with his team. A connection that goes far beyond the boundaries of classic coaching, making him an architect of success in his own way.
Good humour as the key to success
“Coach Song’s good humor is natural. He’s never been in a gloomy mood. His leitmotiv is to do everything to bring joy and good humour to those around him”, reports Emmanuel Mbangkollo, a close friend. The success of a team is measured not only by results on the pitch, but also by the harmony that reigns in the dressing room,” continues the sports commentator. Rigobert Song understood this right from the start of his coaching career. His natural, contagious good humour creates an environment in which players can flourish”.
Rigobert Song’s methods therefore go beyond results objectives. The technician emphasizes performance objectives, stressing that pleasure and fulfillment are the pillars of successful coaching. This philosophy is reflected on the pitch, where his players seem to play with lightness and determination.
A special relationship with his players
Rigobert Song is not just a coach on the pitch.He is available for his players, establishing a unique connection with each of them.His trust in his athletes creates a close bond, fostering a deep understanding of their motivations and needs. “When he was in charge of the Under-23 and senior national teams, he sometimes gave players money to go shopping, sometimes for themselves, sometimes for their families. He easily put himself in the place of a father and an elder to his players”.
What about his “Theory of Danger”? Often uttered in a more or less comical tone, this fetish phrase had the gift of spurring his men to transcend themselves on March 30, 2022 in Blida, against Algeria. The Fennecs, who thought they had already qualified for the World Cup after their 1-0 victory in Cameroon a few days earlier, were disillusioned in front of their home crowd (1-2): “When you know you’re in danger, you’re no longer in danger! It’s when you don’t know you’re in danger that you’re in danger, says Song.
Dance as a remedy for pressure
At crucial moments, Song is not afraid to bring out the heavy artillery to maintain cohesion and eliminate pressure. After a hard-fought 1-0 win over Burundi in South Africa on June 9, 2022, the atmosphere had become heavy. This followed an outburst from Fécafoot president Samuel Eto’o, who famously declared that “tickets for the World Cup will be expensive”. The story goes that, once on the bus, Rigobert Song asked Moumi Ngamaleu to put on some music. He immediately stood up and danced. This gesture, insignificant in the eyes of some, was a breath of fresh air for players whose morale had been shaken by Samuel Eto’o’s harsh words.
Three years earlier, while leading Cameroon’s Under-23 squad to the 2019 African Cup in Egypt, Song had already shown off his dancing talent.”On the eve of the second group match against Mali, the coach promised his players that he would dance in the dressing room if they won. The next day, Cameroon’s Espoirs beat the Aiglons 1-0. And as promised, once in the dressing room, he asked the players to dance around him and put on some music.Without embarrassment, he then began to dance. The video went viral on social networks.
Positive attitude as a healing force
Beyond his impact on the teams he coached, Rigobert Song’s positive attitude also played a major role in his own recovery from a stroke in October 2016. One expert, a specialist in psychological factors in the recovery from illness, explains, “Rigobert Song’s mental strength, fueled by his positive attitude, determination and sense of winning, probably played a decisive role in his recovery. Indeed, in some cases, joy and optimism are powerful elements in overcoming medical ordeals”.
Rigobert Song is more than just a soccer coach.Some see him as a coaching artist, using his positive attitude as a brush to paint his team’s success. And while the results on the pitch may not always be positive, his infectious joie de vivre has created an atmosphere within the Indomitable Lions where fun, confidence and success go hand in hand.