The survival of a sportperson during a pandemic

Mekoa takes pay cut on the chin 

A number of football players have encountered tough situations at some point in their careers and not all of them were able to overcome these challenges as Manti Mekoa has.

The Cape Umoya United captain has experienced being clubless and, in the time of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, he has had his salary slashed by half.

Mekoa, a former Orlando Pirates and Maritzburg United player, told City Press that encountering the “hard knocks of life” had made him a survivor.

“It’s a tough one,” he said in response to the 50% pay cut that Umoya enforced last month.

Although he could not reveal how much he earns, Umoya director of football Roger De Sá said the club’s player salaries ranged from R6 000 to R45 000 a month.

Roger De Sá

Mekoa said: “It [the salary cut] is something that no one anticipated and it is a serious inconvenience. In our case, we had to speak to our debtors, who in turn had to trust the information we provided [and], in my case, that the club has cut our salaries.”

The 34-year-old defensive midfielder from Soweto started his professional journey at Free State Stars 13 years ago when he joined Ea Lla Koto from the University of Pretoria.

Although he spent some time away from Pirates on two loan spells at Golden Arrows and Chippa United, after he left the Buccaneers in 2015. Mekoa spent a few months without a club.

He joined Maritzburg United the following year. That was when he also changed his surname from Moholo to Mekoa.

“I didn’t really make a lot of money, but I managed to survive. I might have misused money here and there, but that was when I was still young. That’s life and it happens,” admitted the player known for his penchant for designer clothes.

“This thing [coronavirus crisis] affects everyone. One needs to accept the situation and adapt to it. Most importantly, this period gives us time to think out of the box when it comes to what to do next and even after lockdown.”

The GladAfrica Championship campaigners were among the first local clubs to slash wages, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

De Sá, however, told City Press that the arrangement was temporary.

He said the club had since covered the players’ shortfall by claiming from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which offers a special payout as part of government’s Covid-19 temporary relief scheme.

Read: ‘Many SA football clubs may resort to pay cuts’

Umoya are placed 11th on the log and had seven games remaining when the PSL postponed fixtures in the middle of March.

Munyai: ‘government’s relief fund will help buy groceries and some medical supplies’

South African star sprinter Clarence Munyai would have been in China last week, but he, like many other track and field athletes around the world, could not leave the country because of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Clarence Munyai. Picture: Gallo Images

Munyai was invited to a World Athletics Continental Tour competition, which was initially scheduled for this last Wednesday in Nanjing, but, like most sporting events around the world, has been cancelled due to the deadly virus.

The pandemic has cost the 22-year-old and many others income – Munyai generates his earnings solely from athletics.

The national 200m record holder was in line to compete for prize money that ranges from $6 000 (R111 000) for first place to $800 for eighth place.

Formerly known as the IAAF World Challenge, the revamped Continental Tour is a series of the world’s best one-day track and field competitions outside the lucrative Diamond League, the participants of which are invited to take part. The winners of each race get $10 000.

However, Munyai confirmed that he had received funds from the Covid-19 Sport Relief Fund, which was announced by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, to help cushion the financial impact of the pandemic.

Like most sportspeople from across sporting codes who met the criteria, the Tuks Athletics runner received R20 000, which he said would cover him for “four months or more” because he didn’t have a lot of expenses.

Other recipients include sprinters Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine, some of the Proteas netball team members and Banyana Banyana players, as well as golfers and athletes with disabilities.

“I am really grateful that government is supporting athletes, and what they offered will go a long way during these uncertain times of Covid-19,” Munyai told City Press.

“The funds will help me buy groceries and some medical supplies since it’s the flu season now. It will also help cover some of my basic expenses such as electricity and water bills.

I am really grateful that government is supporting athletes, and what they offered will go a long way during these uncertain times of Covid-19
Clarence Munya

“Track and field is one sport where you need to perform at your level best, otherwise there’s no income. For a few, you are lucky when you get invited to race in the Diamond League, where it is extremely difficult to get a spot in one of the eight lanes, unless you rank in the top 10 in the world.”

He said the coronavirus outbreak had put a spanner in the works for him because he was determined to win medals at major championships this season.

Munyai, who hails from Muldersdrift in Johannesburg, is ranked among the country’s top sprinters.

He underlined his talent when he obliterated the South African 200m record – 19.84 seconds held by Van Niekerk – with a new mark of 19.69 seconds at the national championships in March 2018.

Munyai is fresh from winning the Athletics Gauteng North 200m title in March, a feat he said had set his season in motion.

“As we speak, I was supposed to be in China. I was also set to run at a few Diamond Leagues and was looking forward to my second Olympics [in Tokyo, Japan]. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do due to the coronavirus. The health of everyone is far more important,” Munyai said.

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