Introduce Life Skills 101 for black soccer players




The dust is settling after Senzo Meyiwa’s untimely death a fortnight ago. Naturally, the incident hogged media limelight mainly because it involved a prominent figure in society – soccer in particular – at the time when his country needed  his services the most to qualify for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

But as the country is slowly coming back to its senses after the natural phase of dealing with high emotions, authorities involved in the development and management of soccer players have to rethink of their approach, from the grass roots through the club level up to the national team.

After his death, it is emerging that the late Senzo Meyiwa was passing through a phase familiar to most black players who come from deprived backgrounds to attain fame and fortune that they hardly expected they might achieve at some point in their lives. Naturally, the transition of coming from a household which could not afford a meal to a life of expensive meals in posh restaurants, as well as massive public adulation is not easy to manage for an average rural or township young man.

Stories of soccer players who in their prime earned a decent income dying paupers after living by the maxim” “live for today, tomorrow will take care of itself” have been exhaustively documented. Of late they have been cases of former soccer players dying of HIV/AIDS after living recklessly.

Tales of rugby or cricket players who ruined their careers and died destitute are not familiar, if any. Fascinatingly, players involved in these sporting codes seem to be disciplined, take their craft seriously and, at the same age which soccer players, go from one night club to night club, they would be married. Noticeably, something must be wrong with black soccer players when they attain fame and fortune!

Beyond doubt, Senzo Meyiwa’s death should serve as a wakeup call to the owners of soccer clubs and the South African Football Association (SAFA) to introduce life skills training for soccer players which should include managing whatever they earn and having stable families.

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