Pressing Issues: Youngsters needhelp to live the good life

2015-04-26 15:00

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Being on leave allowed me to follow King Goodwill Zwelithini’s imbizo, which he called last week to speak out against xenophobia.

While listening to the Zulu king, I identified with the spin doctors, who say President Jacob Zuma’s speeches – mainly those in isiZulu – are misquoted.

I cringed as Zwelithini said: “Namuhla ngizophaka impi (Today I am here to declare war).”

Then he continued by explaining that the war he was declaring was that: “We must take action against all those who are doing these things.” Phew!

A week prior, it was with a heavy heart that I listened to the comments from players and officials who spoke about Richard Henyekane, who died in a car accident.

Their comments reminded me of an isiZulu phrase used at funerals: Ubeyindoda emadodeni kodwa ubehlulwa amanzi. The literal translation is: He was a man among men, but was defeated by water.

The meaning, however, is that he was a great man, but could not control his appetite for alcohol.

Was Henyekane’s move from Lamontville Golden Arrows to Mamelodi Sundowns to Free State Stars a case of clubs trying to get rid of a problem child? But why didn’t they help the 2008/09 Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot award winner who recorded 19 league strikes?

Young football players are plucked from obscurity and thrust into the limelight – into a glamorous world, with more money than many family members’ income combined, drive fancy cars and attract gorgeous women.

It should come as no surprise that these young stars need life-skills training, too – to handle the pressure that comes with fame.

Safa, the PSL and clubs should come up with programmes to help our young superstars cope with life in the fast lane.

I think local clubs should adopt a holistic approach, of the likes of Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam, who see themselves as more than soccer clubs – but also responsible for producing not only good players but great men.

John “Shoes” Moshoeu, who died this past week, was a sterling example of just such a great man. He led a clean life that no doubt allowed him to play professional football well beyond his 40th birthday, never flashed his riches and – as a result – owned several companies, properties and cars.

Let’s use him as an example of how professional athletes should lead their lives.

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