As we celebrate the New Year which is 2018, may I appeal that we spare a thought for football players.
I am limiting this to football players because this is a football column, however our sympathies on the subject I’m about to discuss, should go to all sportspeople.
I know that we have heavily criticised our players for ill-discipline but credit should go to all those players who are well-disciplined and stick to the sometimes quite stringent rules of the game.
While we were enjoying the festive season, my thoughts were with the poor sods called football players.
Are you aware that most of them had to abstain from over-indulgence that is a norm during this period.
You see, for football players their bodies are the main assets from which they make a living and should be kept in shipshape. The saying a healthy mind in a healthy body goes further for players because they need to keep their bodies at an optimum level of fitness.
It is normal practice for clubs to weigh their players before taking off in a break.
On returning, weighing becomes part of a rigorous medical examination process.
Woe unto a player who tips the scale to the wrong side after indulging during the Christmas break.
And it has happened in the past.
Some players pay the ultimate price which is termination of contract - meaning an end to earning income - due to this misdemeanor.
So, I and you can imagine what a tough time a player goes through this period watching us cut into those chunks of all sorts of meat from juicy steaks, pork, mutton, chicken and the turkey that is famous at the Christmas lunch table as well as gulping down all sorts of drinks, both hot and cold.
Throughout this period, they must restrict themselves and stick to a diet and exercise routine prescribed by their clubs.
I still remember a period where a certain sports journalist (who is still alive) had a template of a story about a very talented player (who is sadly late) that he ran at the beginning of every season.
You see, said player had such a serious problem with weight.
So, it was that at the beginning of every season, the journalist would run this story that the said player had bid goodbye to all the fatty stuff and junk food such as burgers to get back to a trim body and full fitness.
As you might have guessed by now, the player kept on ballooning.
So, it is not an easy thing being a player.
I usually say that people judge players by what they see during the 90 minutes on the field as well as the flashy cars and properties that players drive and own due to their huge salaries. However, it is not just as simple as that. It is a tough job being a player. What we see on the field, is a result of hours and hours of hard work at training, self-discipline in sticking to a healthy lifestyle off the field.
In a nutshell, it takes blood, sweat and tears to become a great player. And those who fail the DISCIPLINE test, usually fall by the wayside even long before they realise their full potential.
So here is to a great 2018 and for players, know that discipline bears wonderful fruit but ill-discipline can lead to an abrupt end to a promising career.
S'Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.
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