Horst Kriete was deployed in over 50 countries as a FIFA-Instructor. He coordinated long- and short term projects et. al. in Vietnam, Nigeria, Somalia and South Africa. From 2005 till 2009 he also worked as a technical consultant for the Chinese Football Federation. Most recently Kriete supervised a short term project promoting football in Nepal.
Mr. Kriete, during your career as a coach you have worked in over 50 countries. What gives you strength to step into a plane over and over?
Basic stamina is fundamental in my area of expertise. Furthermore, I do not experience frequent traveling as a burden, but much more as a joy. A flight from Johannesburg to Shanghai is less demanding for me, than a drive in traffic jam from Hamburg to Munich. If you pay attention to basic advises regarding Jetlag, you can also minimize your health risks.
You worked in different cultural circles. This fact most probably posed different challenges for you?
In different cultural areas we experience behavior, which might seem strange for a western observer. This experience should not lead to stereotypes of some cultures being underdeveloped or rudimentary. In many African countries the Christian or Muslim believe is still tightly connected with ancient, traditional rituals or customs. In some cases for example, people connect with ancient gods over spiritual worlds. Practices of this kind might seem bizarre for us. In a ritual like e.g. Juju, which is being practiced in Western Africa, where superstition has a much longer tradition than football, special measures can be used to influence the opponent. During an away match of my Nigerian team FC Julius Berger in the north of Nigeria, a pigs head was buried in front of our goal to weaken our defense. As a result our team refused to go out and play the second half. After a large dispute between the officials of both teams, the pigs head was removed, so that both teams could finish the game. The game ended in a 0:0 draw.
How did you get around to work as a development worker?
Through my sports, geography and education studies I developed an affinity for international cooperation. During my university courses and workshops I had the opportunity to visit different countries and learn about development aid. Finally, my sports lecturer Benno Hartmann, gave me the last impulse to start working in the area of international sport development. My first step was the development of the “National Institute For Sports” in Lagos / Nigeria, a country in which football is celebrated as a religion.
Alone in China, South Africa and Zimbabwe you spent 10 years of your life. What does it take to be a German Football Ambassador?
Football excites people all over the world. Football provides an opportunity to transmit values like fair play and to promote peaceful coexistence among each other. This, the power and potential that football has, can be used to support other countries with regard to their own development. Values like respect, determination, discipline, passion, communication etc. can be taught through football and should be central in education of future coaches and players. Professional qualification and the willingness to cooperate with native colleagues are essential for our success. Only then can we properly blend into our new surroundings. Respect for foreign cultures and empathy for local working methods is also very important. In countries with different ethnic groups, football can help achieve “Nation Building”, as I could experience in Nigeria and South Africa. Last, but not least, it is indisputable that threw football and international sport aid, positive image of Germany can further be improved.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese deputy prime minister Liu Yandong recently signed an extensive football treaty in Berlin. As an expert on Chinese football you were present during this event. How do you see the development of football in China?
China might be the most populated country in the world, but has so far only 1621 football clubs. Most of the have only one team. If you compare these numbers to over 25.000 football clubs in Germany you can estimate the general level of Chinese football. In addition, there is no volunteering in sports like in Europe, so there is no basis for a diverse football development. Until now the youth football was not gaining a lot of support neither in the educational system, nor at many professional football clubs. Due to a new policy, football should be integrated in the Chinese educational system. For this purpose several treaties between Chinese Ministry of Education, Chinese Football Association and the German Football Federation have been signed. Various programs should improve the level of Chinese football. In my opinion this development will definitely not be easy and I hope that the high expectations can be fulfilled.
In 2015, we visited China with one of the German Football Ambassadors, Eckhard Krautzun. Is there an exchange of experience between German trainers that are working abroad or is it more of a competition?
I personally never experienced a competition between German coaches abroad. The gathered knowledge is being shared during annual conferences that are being organized by the DFB. In addition, there is generally a good and respectful connection between colleagues. For me personally, the trustworthy cooperation with local partners is the most important basis for successful work. Local colleagues are indispensable for developing successful and sustainable programs.