Off-field acts hurt players

2010-09-05 12:36

Players like Lerato Chabangu, Sandile Ndlovu, Lungisani Ndlela and Collins Mbesuma will soon be regarded as has-beens.

In fact, the media will be writing “they were fantastic footballers in their day and could have been among the world’s greatest, but they threw it all away”.

These were some of the game’s most sought-after players not so long ago, but today they find themselves either clubless or in the National First Division.

Clubs are no longer after their signatures – instead, they are subjected to trials.

This is because they are involved in many off-field incidents, and despite their obvious talent they never fulfilled their true potential.

Many soccer players’ cases range from drunkenness and womanising to drug addiction and general misbehaviour.

This is the sad story unfolding in South African football as these players and many more follow in the footsteps of England’s greats, such as George Best and Paul Gascoigne – and they might soon just be ­forgotten.

But the question comes down to responsibility. Whose fault is it if they fail to be responsible for themselves?

Player agent Mike Makaab says it is up to individuals to be accountable and responsible for their own behaviour.

Makaab, who represents many soccer players locally and internationally, says it is vital that players live a good life off the field.

“The biggest problem is that most of the players cannot even learn from their own previous mistakes. These are extremely talented players, but they have not displayed the correct discipline to be top footballers and this is a major concern,” said Makaab.

The South African Football Players’ Union (Safpu) is concerned about this behaviour and wants to introduce measures to curb it.

Safpu national organiser Cappy Matutoane has blamed the clubs, accusing them of neglecting players and not doing enough to support them.

“I think clubs have a bigger role to play in helping our players, because they spend most of their time there. As the union we can only do so much, as most of the time we only hear of these things when there is trouble already,” said Matutoane.

He said the union wanted to amass finances so as to deal with this social issue.

This week Mamelodi Sundowns gave former Bafana Bafana striker Chabangu his clearance after he was accused of missing training sessions.
Chabangu, who was part of Bafana’s 2008 Nations Cup in Ghana, has been portrayed negatively in the media.

He was recently accused of assault and drunken driving.

In the beginning of the season, Moroka Swallows sacked the 2004/5 season’s PSL top scorer, Mbesuma, after he reported late for the off-season training.

Ndlela was also fired by Swallows, while Bloemfontein Celtic did not renew Ndlovu’s contract. Ndlovu, voted as the Players’ Player of the Season in 2004/5, has resurfaced at Dynamos with the hope of resuscitating his ailing career.

Ndlela, who was a hit at the 2005 Gold Cup in the US, is reported to be undergoing trials at ­Platinum Stars.

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