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Gavin Hunt – 3 Decades of Football

Gavin Hunt started his career in football in 1981 as a right back at Hellenic Football Club. After 12 years on the field, Hunt decided to take his career to the bench and started coaching at Seven Stars Football club in 1995. Hunt has coached at 6 different football clubs and has 11 honours to his name and is now currently coaching the 2016 MTN8 Champions Bidvest Wits.

How different is football now from when you started playing 36 years ago?

Football is completely different now, even the game has changed. If you take it from a football perspective the pitches are much better now compared to when we used to play. Some of our matches were played on dust bowls and very bad pitches. As so called professionals we trained in the evenings because we had jobs during the day and there is a sizable difference between my salary then and what some of the players earn today. The speed of football has most certainly changed and the players are far more athletic compared to the big strong players of my day. If you look at the players of this generation they don’t seem to enjoy the game as much as we used to 36 years ago.”

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“The one criticism I would give modern football is that there is not a lot of football intelligence and that stems from poor development structures. We came from great development structures. As a young football player, you learn the basics early on in your career where some players who are now in their 20’s are still learning the basics.”

How different has each culture been at the different clubs you have worked at?

“Every club has its own culture, problems and strengths. I came from Hellenic Football Club which had a great development structure and produced fantastic young home grown players but there were also some lessons to be learnt in that aspect. Every club I have worked at has had great qualities in terms of the people I have worked with. They have all been fantastic in their own way.”

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How does it feel to be victorious and celebrate a win with your team?

“What we work and strive for as a team is to win. You cannot win at every club because you don’t always have the financial resources to buy the best players. People often comment on how fantastic a coach is but have they worked at clubs where there is no money to buy the best players and instead have to sell players. That for me is when you see the true potential of a coach. For me, it is about striving to win the next match and also the next trophy.”

Bidvest Wits celebrates during the MTN8 Final match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits on the 01 October 2016 at Mbombela Stadium Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

“If I could go back, I would certainly have a different path in life. Things happen in your life as you move along and opportunities arise that you don’t take. I am most certainly very blessed and privileged to work in this environment. But, if I had the chance to come back I would have perhaps taken another road. Still in football but I would have accepted opportunities that came along instead of turning them down.”

The second half of the season kicks off tomorrow what kind of preparation has the team been doing?

“I think there has been far too much time during this break.  It may be a good or bad thing but sometimes you never know. It all comes down to the first match. If you start well then you can say the preparation was good and if you start poorly then the preparation was bad. I think we have had too much time to prepare and I think everyone has. The PSL has done a very good job under the difficult circumstances. We have had 3 pre-seasons in one season because of the Olympics, African Nations Cup and now there is the CAF and Champions League.”

If you could create a dream team consisting of any players in the world who would you choose?

“If you look at modern day football I don’t think you have ever seen the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Then you had players like Diego Maradona, Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Bobby Moore and Johan Cruyff.  I loved Johan Cruyff. Alfredo Di Stéfano what a player he was. Cafu as a right back and Paolo Maldini as a left fullback.”

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There is a lot of negative media that revolves around football as a whole.  How do you and the team deal with it when it comes to crunch time?

“When you are at the bottom you are going to get a lot of positive media and when you are at the top you are going to get a lot of negative media. That is how it works.  When you get to the top they want to knock you down and at the bottom, you are doing well with the little resources that you have. My argument in South African Football is that they don’t give credit where credit is due and there is a lot of negativity from that perspective.  The more negative press there is about you then you know you are doing well.”

The Clever Boys are often seen doing different forms of exercise during training like cricket, boxing and yoga. Why?

“If you are a cyclist and I tell you to get on your bicycle every day and ride it there are going to be days when you get a bit bored. So there are times when you need to actively take the players minds off what they do and subconsciously make them do things that are still good for fitness, team building and good for the spirit. Whatever sport you play you need an occasional break to get away from it all.”